by Danielle Kent
People are forever throwing around the phrase that ‘you only live once’, but most don’t really take it on board. The thing is, do you really know how precious being alive is until it’s about to end? Bronnie Ware, a former palliative care nurse, has written a book which shares her experiences of caring for the terminally ill, which largely discusses the top five regrets of the dying. Of course, none of the regrets where especially surprising, but what is saddest about them is that they would have all been so hopelessly simple to rectify.
The most common was the regret of the dying was that they hadn’t had the courage to live a life true to themselves, not the one that others had expected them to. “Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it” says Ware in her book. The idea of unfulfilled dreams and the worry of having to defend ones own personal desires for the rest of their life is a concern for most. Fortunately, I have faith that the era that we live in will make this regret much less prevalent now and in the future than it was for the older generations.
Wishing that they hadn’t worked so hard and wishing they had remained in touch with friends also ranked highly on the list, something that many people are apologetic of throughout their lives. The endless opportunities in the modern world makes the decision to relax and make time for friends and family a difficult one, but at the end of the day, your family and your friends are the most important thing that anyone ever has. Work and wealth means nothing when you are laying alone on your death bed thinking of all the things you wish you had have done but didn’t.
Ironically, many of the patients that Ware had the gratification of speaking to had developed their illnesses as a result of the bitterness and resentment that they had been holding inside them. Not having the courage to express their feelings was another sincere regret. “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” explains Ware.
As morbid as the thought is, perhaps if everyone considered the things in their life that they are unhappy about and remedied them while they still have the chance to then there would be no room left for regret when the time was about to end.