Thursday, June 2, 2011

Life's Top Regrets

This list of the top regrets elder care nurse Bonnie Ware heard over her many years working with dying patients and her thoughts on such regrets. It inspired me to continue living a life of passion rather than one of safety.   

What things do I do, say, own, and feel in my current life that I think will continue to be of value at the very end? Those are the things to which I must  gravitate and ground myself in. Of course - no one knows what experiences life will bring nor how they will feel at the end, but this list helps me to be less afraid of being afraid every once in awhile.

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 have 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.

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. 
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip.But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks,love and relationships.

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 sillyness in their life again. 

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again,long before you are dying.


Shannon said...

At least I have 1 and 5 down pat like a boss. Now sometimes my friends have refused to keep in touch. I gave her every opportunity, how many times I told her to call me if she EVER needed me, and wrote my number 5 times in her stuff when she moved. :( It's a two lane track.

KymSpins said...

Two way street is exactly right - often times the folks that create the most drama in my life are the ones that are the least missed when they are gone. It's nothing personal - I just think sometimes folks aren't compatible. If someone isn't putting in the effort, or it feels HARD to be friends with someone that is usually a sign. Whatever happens I take as an experience and try and learn from it. It sounds SOOOO cheesy - but it really does work. :)

Fijufic said...

Common regrets. All of them can be changed the instant you decide to make the change.

KymSpins said...

^^ yup yup yup - sooo often 'barriers' to change have very little to do with actual external barriers and much more to do with perceived or created ones. Nothing can hold one back or push them forward like the mind.