Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days, has written about the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. People gain an impressive clarity of vision at the end of their lives, she says, adding that we can learn from their wisdom.
Ware's Top 5 Regrets of the Dying
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
"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 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.
"[Male patients] missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. 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.
"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..."
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Adapted from Ware B. The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Death and dying. The Guardian. Internet. Accessed on May 24, 2018.