Thursday, 12 April 2012

Top five regrets of the dying

Top five regrets of the dying | Life and style |

There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. A palliative nurse
who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most
common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top,
from men in particular, is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in
palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their
lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called
Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put
her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at
the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom.
"When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do
differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again."

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

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

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."

What's your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to
achieve or change before you die?