I have taken the liberty to edit the article and present to you the five most common regrets of the dying, as published by an Australian palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware, during the last weeks of her patients' lives. She eventually published these comments in a book, listing the various regrets that had been spoken about by her patients in their final care. This book is called: The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
Why I am writing about this article today is that I read these top five regrets which were listed in the Guardian article, and they stated:
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."
Now we come to the reason why I wanted to write about this particular article. I can honestly say that as far as these top five regrets go, I have always tried to successfully achieve these 'goals'. I have lived my life fully and have positively responded to each of these five regrets throughout my life.
I have always been true to myself. If I wasn't, I wouldn't be me, and may not have achieved the things in my life that I did achieve. Sure, I did things to please my parents while going through schools, but as I was self employed for the majority of my life, and held paid positions later in life, I was always able to let my imagination and individualism come forward.
Working hard it very important, as that is usually the only way that we will achieve our goals and strive towards a better life. But relaxing and spending time with your family and taking the time to 'smell the roses' is just as important. While at times I would be snowed under with work, I would always find time to sit with my girls as they were growing up and share important time with them. Companionship and love for and from your loved partner is also very important, and must always be nurtured.
I have always been a communicator. Ask my friends and family. But I am a true believer in expressing emotions, sometimes as you are going through them. I have always tried to encourage my family to do the same thing. I strongly believe that the more you keep hurt feelings or frustrations to yourself, that the end result will be resentment, and perhaps anger. This happens to everyone. But talking about it will, in most cases, make these negative feelings go away.
I love my friends. This includes those friends who touched my life while I was young, and perhaps going through schools or being employed in my first jobs. To the best of my ability I try to still stay involved with them, and share messages and even jokes with them, even if it is just via an electronic means, due to the vast distances around the world, between us. My current friends who are now in my life, know that I love them, as I usually tell them. Good friendships that weather well over the years, are those treasures we give ourselves!
Laughter and enjoyment of living is very important. I will admit I have had some very sad times in my life, which were often out of my control. At times I wondered if I could ever gain control of the old me, but then something would happen, and next thing I knew I would be laughing until the tears rolled down my face. Everyone needs to remind themselves of that every day and celebrate it, and what better way than through laughter, and sharing the love and the enjoyment of what you have to give.
I hope this article awakens something in you, so that if there is a regret now, you can do something about it, before it is too late.
Better a life lived fully than to have just reached for the 'golden ring'. Love of yourself and your family and friends is better that all the riches in the world!