It’s been said that what you will probably be thinking about on your death bed is what you should be working on daily, but we all tend to get caught up in that little thing called life and forget what living is truly all about…until we are faced with that big thing called death.
Bonnie Ware is a nurse who spent several years working on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients, caring for them in the last 12 weeks of their lives.
Ware recorded her patients’ dying epiphanies in a blog called “Inspiration and Chai,” which created so much attention it prompted her to write a book titled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”
She writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives and how the rest of us might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again,” she said.
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 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 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 realize, 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 all of the men 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 realize 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 realize 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.”
Do any of these ring true with you? What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life? Maybe today is the day to forget about the regrets of the past and start living the dreams of the present and future.