I was recently reading a piece by Bronnie Ware, care worker who works in the area of palliative care. she has worked with countless number of patients who are sadly seeing their last days on earth. Bronnie questioned the patients about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, five common regrets surfaced again and again and I thought I would share them with you .
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 it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honoured half of their dreams and die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. It is important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. My wise neighbour says do things while you are healthy as 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 Bonnie nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. The men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work. By simplifying your life and making conscious choices, it is possible to not need the income that you think. By creating more space in your life, you become happier and 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. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. As a result, they settled for an existence and never became their real self i.e. who they were truly capable of becoming. We cannot control the reactions of others. Although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, it raises the relationship to a healthier level or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4 I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Many people 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 death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order but it is not money or status that holds the true importance. They want to get things in order for those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end.
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. 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. Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness. Thanks to Bronnie Ware for her great insights.
You might think it an odd place to begin changing your life, but consider writing your own obituary. What is it that you’d like someone to say about you after you are gone?
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.