Looking back on your life, what do you regret most?
Is it that you didn't make enough money? That you didn't spend enough time with family? Enjoy vacations more? We all have our own dreams of what could have been and what we could have done differently, but in the end, all we can do is take the advice from those older and wiser than us, and try to make the most of our time.
Such advice can be found in Bronnie Ware's 2012 memoir "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing." In the book, Ware details her experience as a palliative nurse, counselling people on their deathbed. When she asked her patients what they regret most in their life, she found common themes and answers appearing again and again.
In the Amazon summary of the book it notes, "Bronnie has had a colourful and diverse past, but by applying the lessons of those nearing their death to her own life, she developed an understanding that it is possible for people, if they make the right choices, to die with peace of mind."
So, without further ado, here are the top five most common regrets told to Ware by people on their deathbed. Each regret is accompanied by an excerpt from Ware's book.
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 realise 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 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. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."
2. I wish I hadn't worked 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 work existence."
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."
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."
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 life again."
(H/T: The Guardian)
Like this story? Click the button below to share!