Dying and life regrets

by DrDarko

Palliative nurse Bronnie Ware collected dying regrets of patients she took care of as the end of their life approached. Five most mentioned regrets certainly deserve contemplation.

While some people do manage to fulfill their greatest wishes and fantasies, most people aren’t so lucky. Nevertheless, too many people, regardless of their success or failure, regret not doing things differently and leading different lives.

Learning about top five regrets of the dying might help you decide what you could change in your life and avoid regrets as the end of life approaches. You might even be surprised as to how little it takes to avoid some of these regrets.

While we might think that we are too young to start thinking about death and dying regrets, we should remember that great quote by Theodore Roosevelt - “Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young.”

Here are the top five regrets of the dying people as collected by Bronnie Ware:

1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

It is not so strange that this is the most common regret of the dying. Other people’s expectations create a powerful influence on your behavior. Those same expectations sometimes become your own.

Trying to fit in and allowing other people’s ideas to decide what “you can’t do,” or what “you must do” will create a life of conformity and dullness. In reality, there is no good reason why you cannot live a life that is true to yourself.

Life true to yourself does not demand that you invent cure for cancer or become the President of USA. Life true to yourself requires you only to start thinking about what’s really important to you and to act on that.

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

While mostly men expressed this regret, in today’s world, women usually work just as hard or even harder.

Success demands and requires hard work. Still, there is such thing as working too hard. You do not want your kids to grow up wondering who could be this tall dark stranger that only occasionally shows up during their waking hours.

By investing in yourself, your education and your social connections, you will actually work smarter, not harder. You achieve nothing if all your efforts and overtime are wasted.

Freedom from effort in the present merely means that there has been effort stored up in the past.
-Theodore Roosevelt

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Too many people develop illnesses related to all the bitterness and resentment they carry throughout their life. Suppressing your feelings and avoiding antagonizing anybody is a sure recipe for future health and happiness issues.

Actually, it is not too difficult to express your feelings and yet avoid being considered anti-social. Show your anger, show your love, show your passion and show your pain. There is a time and place for everything, including your feelings.

Once you realize that allowing people to walk all over you is not a positive trait, everything should come easier.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

We can get so entangled with our work, get caught up in our lives and let golden friendships slip by over the years. We can avoid this one regret with minimal effort.

Social networks like Facebook and Google+ allow us to stay in touch with our friends regardless of the geographic distance. All you need to do in order to keep the friendship fire burning is to take time to occasionally actually write a short note to your friends.

Show them that you still care and that you will be there for them if they ever need you. Be a true friend to your friends.

Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.
-Theodore Roosevelt

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Believe it or not, happiness is a choice. Too many people, due to fear of change, pretend to others and to themselves that they are content, hiding their longing for laugh and silliness.

We are all too often guilty of taking ourselves too seriously. Instead, we should cultivate the ability to laugh at our mistakes and ourselves. Every laugh is precious and you should treat it as such.

If you start feeling that your problems are too great for laughter, go and watch a great Roberto Benigni movie called “Life is beautiful.” This story of a Jewish man who must use humor to protect his son in a Nazi death camp is truly a well of inspiration.

Nurse Bronnie also wrote a great book about all her experiences and you should definitely check it out.

Related posts:

Just be yourself and you will achieve success. This old advice was, is, and always will be wrong. If you want to succeed, you have to be your best self.
New Years Eve is not the only time for making resolutions. Best time to decide on a success is right now, and best way of setting your goals is the SMART way!
Many people are fans of demotivational pictures. I am not one of them. Truly, nothing speaks “home” better than a couple of strategically place motivational posters.
Updated: 05/04/2012, DrDarko
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JoHarrington on 07/21/2012

Much food for thought there.

dustytoes on 05/14/2012

Every day we think we have another one coming, and one day we won't. These points are good ones that we should strive to do!

BrendaReeves on 05/10/2012

Wonderful article. You're never too young to start thinking about death. Just look in the obituaries and you'll see why.

katiem2 on 05/08/2012

What a powerful life altering moment to consider. I believe it is a very real goal to live to ones fullest most rewarding possibilities.

sheilamarie on 05/05/2012

You've made many important points on this page. It really is possible to live a full life, despite the obstacles that seem to block us.

terrilorah on 05/05/2012

Very nice and true. I work in a nursing home and this is so true about what people do regret.

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