On Regrets of the Dying

Bronnie Ware describes herself as having a thirst for experiencing life from the moment she was born. Reading about her life you begin to feel that she’s experienced a lot.

For many years, Bronnie worked in palliative care. Through her work with patients facing their mortality, she has come to greater appreciation of her life and the lives of others. In this moving post, she describes how these dying patients, time and time again, cite similar regrets. These are the 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. 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. 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 work existence. 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.

Reading the above, did you come away with the impression: “This is me right now”? If so, is there anything that you can or are willing to do about it?

Please go to Bronnie’s blog post and read the other two regrets (on friends and happiness). I can’t conclude it better than Bronnie did: Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

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(hat tip to @bfeld)

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