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 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.
“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?
This provides more confirmation for me that I am walking a good path in regards to the important values expressed in the five listed regrets. There are definite important lessons to be gleaned from the sentiments of these various folks at the end of their days. Learning to value, and live simpler lives is to my mind integral to creating an atmosphere of living conducive to the acheivement of the life changes outlined in the five points.
And speaking of the Simple Life 🙂
The original “Four Agreements” and the “Fifth Agreement” will help you live a life of no regrets…
1. Be impeccable with your word
2. Don’t take anything personally
3. Don’t make assumptions
4. Always do your best
5. Be skeptical, but learn to listen
A life of self sacrafice will not lead you to happiness or fulfillment.
Nice photo Hotspringswizard.
Is that you?
Harmonious relations with family and a sense of being part of nature.
A simple tent,not a monster trailer,kayaks built with the kids,not crappy glittering fiberglass bought with cash,good books and art.
It’s all about values,we just celebrated our 62nd. anniversary.
Life built on consumerism is not
Do not save your loving speeches
for your friends till they are dead.
Do not place them on their tombstones-
speak them rather now instead.
From my early youth, college days and present time I have been captivated by the great secular poets,philosophers,thinkers and moreover the spiritual teachings of the Bible, especially the Psalms and Proverbs. I am now 58, retired, and have applied these instructions for approaching life as my guiding light, and have not regretted it. I have foregone wealth in favor of peace of mind,simplicity, a lovely home environment in a breathtaking natural setting with time with my wife and special needs child. Sometimes I actually feel sorry for my ex co-workers in the entertainment business in Los Angeles. Yes, they are well to do and struggling for more, fighting traffic- guzzling gas, mired in a chaotic and vicious environment, wasting their days producing crap on TV that, for the most part, has no real meaning and with the consequence of numbing the minds of the masses and fueling corporate influence and deceptions on it’s unassuming viewers.