An Australian Nurse, Bronnie Ware, who spent several years of her life caring for the patients during the last few weeks of their life, used to ask the patients about life’s biggest regrets they had or what would they do differently.” She then put her findings onto her book, “The Top Five Regrets of Dying.”
She stated that her patients shared unbelievably special times with her. According to her, people grow a lot when they face their mortality. Bronnie said she learned never to underestimate anyone’s growth capacity. Some changes are phenomenal. Each of her patients experienced different emotions, fear, anger, denial, remorse, and, eventually, acceptance. However, each of them found their peace before they take their last breath.
Bronnie mentioned the phenomenal clarity of vision that her patients gained towards the end of their life and the most common themes that surfaced in their minds again and again while conversing with her about regret and death.
She distinctly identified “The Top five regrets of the dying” as:
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 she found while conversing with the patients. When people realize that they are towards the end of life and look back on it, it is easy to see the dreams that have been left unfulfilled. Most people didn’t have a chance to fulfill even half of their dreams and died knowing that it was because of the choices they made or should have made.
It is important that we try to honor as many dreams as possible along the way. It will be too late to do so from the moment you start losing your health. Health is the greatest asset that a very few realize at an early age. A person should value it before it is too late. Accomplish as many dreams as you can during the early years of your life when you still have the courage and strength to follow your dreams.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
Almost every male patient that Bronnie Ware nursed answered a yes when asked do you regret working too much?
All the patients said that they missed their youth and their partner’s companionship. Many women also had the same regret. As most of her patients were from the older generation, many female weren’t the bread earners. All the men she had conversations with extremely regretted working so hard during their lifetime.
Don’t complicate your life. Understand what is important in your life. It is possible not to require the income you think you do by simplifying your lifestyle and making sensible changes throughout your life. And by creating more space, you can live a happier life and become more open to opportunities those well-suited to your newly chosen lifestyle.
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings
Most people keep their feelings suppressed just to keep peace with others. This results in settling for a mediocre existence, and they never become that person they are truly capable of becoming. Many of them developed some illness due to resentment and bitterness they carried through with them.
You cannot control other’s reactions. Although people may react initially when you change the way you were with them before, when you add honesty, it raises any relationship to a healthier and new level. This will also benefit you by releasing any unhealthier relationship from your life, making you happier. Either way, you will highly benefit from opening your heart out.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
This is one of the biggest regrets on deathbed people face. Often, people don’t realize the true value of old friends until the end of their life. However, tracking down the lost friends at that age is not always possible. Most of them agreed that they became so busy in their whole life that they had lost a golden friendship over the years. Almost everyone deeply regretted not giving friendship the effort and time that it deserved. Every one missed friends during the end of life.
In this busy lifestyle, it is very common to let the golden friendship slip over time. But when you are approaching the end days, the physical details of life start to fall away. People run behind money their whole life to get financial matters in order. However, when you are approaching death, you will realize that money and status don’t hold the true importance that you thought.
You will be looking to get things for the benefit of people you love. However, you will be too weak and tired to manage all this. In the end, it will all come down to friendship, love, and relationship, and only this will remain in the final weeks of your life.
Understand the value of what you already have in your life, like your family, friends, and other relations, while working for what you dream.
5. I wish I had let myself be happier
This is the common regret that almost everyone had. Until the last few years or months, most people don’t realize that happiness is a choice. Everyone agreed that they stayed stuck in old habits and patterns. The comfort of familiarity overflowed into their physical and mental health. They were content to themselves and others because of the fear of change they had. They were ached to enjoy and laugh properly and wished to get back the silliness in their life.
When you are towards the end of your life, you don’t care what others think or feel about you. How wonderful it would be to live the whole life like that and smile whenever you want. Laugh your heart out and be happier than you are now. Life is a choice. It is a choice how you live it. Don’t ruin it by worrying about how others will think about you. Choose happiness, honesty, and enjoy it to the fullest.
So, what are your greatest regrets? List down the top 10 regrets of the dying you think you will have.
Years from now, when you will be close to the end of life, what would you be willing to trade to get back to this point for a chance to be yourself?
Imagine, what will you wish to do this day, if you get back from then to this day?
Reminding about the mortality puts our life into perspective. When we understand that life is short, we will value it and separate the unimportant for what is important. It will help us focus on what matters, not just today but over the course of whole life.
Start working on your list, so you don’t have to regret on your deathbed. You can change how you will live from today to avoid these regrets later.
Fill your life with love and do what you love with people you love. The formula for a regret-free life is very simple. Just follow your heart, dream big, walk towards achieving them, chase your greatness, and love deeply. The key is to have the courage to all these and live a happy and lovable life.