Death & dying
‘I wish I’d been happier.’February 4, 2016
The most common regrets of the dying, according to a palliative care nurse.
A palliative care nurse has revealed the most common regrets from her patients.
In her book “Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”, Bronnie Ware says she found that nearly all of her patients were more concerned with the relationships they had built with others and being truly happy than they were with money, fame or success.
Ware says: “People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance to them… It all comes down to love and relationships in the end.”
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 – people whose lives are almost over will often pay attention to what they failed to do in the time they had.
Ware found that most people had not realised even half of their dreams, and knew that it was because of choices they’d made.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
Every male patient had this regret. They felt they had spent less quality time with their families – missing their children growing up, and not spending enough time with their partners.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many patients felt that they had repressed their feelings in order to keep the peace with others. Ware said that many had developed illnesses relating to the resentment they felt as a result of hiding their true feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
It can be hard to keep in touch with old friends when life gets in the way, and it is not uncommon to forget people as you go about your everyday routine.
Dying patients didn’t truly realise how much they valued their friends until it was too late, by which point they had lost contact and it was not possible to track down old friends.
5. I wish I had let myself be happier.
Many did not realise until they were dying that happiness is a choice you make, Ware found. Fear of change, pleasing others and the general habits and patterns they formed in life had prevented them from true happiness.
Ware says: “When you’re 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, and choose honestly. Choose happiness.”