Top five regrets of the dying

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

When you're close to kicking the bucket it's not skydiving, more crazy love making or hiking Everest that you're going to wish you did. Not according to Australian palliative nurse, Bronnie Ware.

Ware counsels people in their dying days and says the most common regret she hears from her patients is wishing they hadn't worked so hard, especially from the men.

She chats with people in their last three to 12 weeks alive, and began recording their reflections in a blog called Inspiration and Chai. The site received so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

"People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality," she writes on the blog.

"I learnt never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance."

"When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five."

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."

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."


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."

- HERALD ONLINE

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