- For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients
were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were
shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
- People grow a lot when they are faced with their own
mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth.
Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as
expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance.
Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every
one of them.
- When questioned about any regrets they had or anything
they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here
are the most common five:
- 1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to
myself, not the life others expected of me.
- This was the most common regret of all. When people realize
that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy
to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not
honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was
due to choices they had made, or not made.
- It is very important to try and honour at least some
of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health,
it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no
longer have it.
- 2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
- This came from every male patient that I nursed. They
missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women
also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many
of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed
deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a
- By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices
along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you
do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more
open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
- 3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
- Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep
peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and
never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses
relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
- We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although
people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking
honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier
level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your
life. Either way, you win.
- 4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- Often they would not truly realise the full benefits
of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to
track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they
had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep
regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved.
Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
- It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships
slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical
details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs
in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true
importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit
of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever
manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the
end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
- 5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
- This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise
until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old
patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed
into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had
them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content.
When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their
- When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you
is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile
again, long before you are dying.
- Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously,
choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
- Bronnie Ware is a writer and
songwriter from Australia. Her blog has a loyal and ever-increasing following
and has been quoted in several respectable international publications.
Based on this article, Bronnie has now released a full-length book, also
titled 'The Top Five Regrets of the Dying'. For more information about
this or to read more of Bronnie's work, please visit her blog at http://inspirationandchai.com.
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