Ever wondered what goes through the minds of those on their death bed?
Bonnie Ware, a palliative nurse decided to record the most common regrets of the dying and collated them into a book titled, ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.’
Life has its ups and downs and unfortunately, it seems that sometimes we don’t realize the true meaning of the world around us until we face the possibility that our time is coming to an end.
Working with those who are facing death can be hard but Ware decided to focus on what message these people could pass on to the world and what they wish they had done differently.
“Health,” Ware says, “brings a freedom very few realize until they no longer have it.”
She found that the top five regrets were –
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 had not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made or not made.”
2.) I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
Ware found every single male patient that she nursed had this same regret. “They 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 had the courage to express my feelings
Many patients reported suppressing their feelings in order to shy away from the truth or to keep the peace. Ware claimed that many felt they had carried bitterness or resentment through their lives because of it. “They settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.”
4.) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Ware found that many of her patients felt that they got so caught up in their lives that they had let their friendships slip by. “Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort they deserved.”
5.) I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Ware was surprised to find that many of her patients now viewed happiness as 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.”
We rarely regret what we have done and rather we regret the things that we didn’t do.
What things can you change in your life today that will allow you to feel like you have lived life to the fullest?