Living Life

Always worth a re-read again and again... this was in the gaurdian recently

Top five regrets of the dying

A palliative nurse has recorded the top five regrets of the dying. Photograph: Montgomery Martin/Alamy

There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. "When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again."

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 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. Health brings a freedom very few realise, 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 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."

Usernametbd Usernametbd
36-40, M
4 Responses Dec 5, 2012

Thank You So Much For This Great Experience !

Wish the Whole World Would Read This !
Maybe Everyone Should Pas it Forward Till it Reaches Around the Globe !!!!

"5. I wish that I had let myself be happier." Could include sex... Good sex give me a lot of happiness... bet for many people as well...

I read those bullets very carefully, and edited it a bit to adapt to my personality and situation.
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life *I* expected of me.
2. I wish I had worked harder, instead of wasting time on EP.
3. I've always had the courage to express my feelings, and look where that got me.
4. I wish I had more time to myself.
5. I wish my spouse and several other people had let me be happier.

"5. I wish my spouse and several other people had let me be happier."
Your happiness is totally your responsibility... Other spouse and other "other" people is the part of the option...

Ironically, all five of those notions play a huge part in changing from an SM and the regrets about not having acted sooner. I WISH I hadn't worked so hard on the scented candles and jumping through hoops. And all the other 4 are highly relevant!

And I know darn well that I will regret the years of lost sex and intimacy - you betcha.

Has it occurred to the esteemed nurse, that, apart from the statistically meaningless sample, and dodgy situation in which the stories came out - that it is highly unlikely that someone with terminal cancer is going to talk with a nurse to say they wanted more sex?

So true! That would make a good number 6. I just can't imagine anyone on their death bed saying "you know, I had way too much sex in this life" or even that they feel they had just the right amount...

or the apocryphal deathbed lament of an old geezer - "spent most of my money on women and whiskey, and the rest I just wasted...."

You know i also did it amazing, outside of my marriage I would never hesitate for change or opportunity... A bit of risk taker, financially, career wise, adrenaline, etc.... From the football expression " play all 4 quarters, and leave it on the field". No regrets, and bust your ***... Why is that so hard to implement in a SM?

Typo..., "find it amazing" not did...

And I've just been fantasising about a scenario around J"e ne regret rien" (or Je ne regret reeen as Dame Edna put it) - how's about that patient in palliative care saying to the nurse: "hey Bronnie, how's about your duty to give succor to your patients? I'd like a BJ RIGHT NOW!!!! while there's still time!"

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