Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Bronnie Ware, is a writer, songwriter and nurse in her homeland of Australia. In her years caring for dying patients she identified the five most common regrets they shared about their lives. These observations became an article, and later a book titled, “The Top Five Regrets of the 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. 
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. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships. 
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. We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win. 
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. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle. 
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.  It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it. 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.
The truth is, we're all dying. In the words of the late Jim Morrison, "No one here gets out alive." It may be 50 years from now, it may be tomorrow. None of us know. 

For those who are in Christ, death is not something we should fear. We should actually look forward to it! As the apostle Paul said, "To live is Christ and to die is gain." If we live, we have the privilege of helping lead people to eternal life. There is no greater way to spend our days. When we die, we receive the reward of our faith, to live in glory with Christ forever. With that in mind, we can make the most of each day, each moment, each opportunity to share the eternal life giving message of Jesus.

Live today in light of eternity.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post. Having lied on that hospital bed not knowing if the sun would rise for me the next day I take this rather seriously. I lead a somewhat risky life because I do not want to be lying there wishing I had done this or that. But to that end, what really makes the difference is my loving relationship with Christ.