Nurse Reveals Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

*I once heard some great advice that has always stuck with me. It is to live as if this is your second time through life. If you could go back and do it all over, how would your relationships be different? What things would be important? What things wouldn’t? This is an interesting dialogue about life and the regrets of those who’ve had the ability to look back.*

From Arise India Forum:

“For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

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 honor 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 realize, until they no longer have it.

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.

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.

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 common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

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.

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.

(original source)

3 Replies to “Nurse Reveals Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”

  1. Awesome stuff, thank you. I can see how #1 is the most common. A major flaw in our society is that we are taught from a young age to be dreamers, but also to put those dreams on a back burner until we are “successful enough” to have the free time and extra cash to fulfill them. This “success” is of course defined by society and its expectations for us.

    1. That’s spot on. It’s interesting to see the generational gaps between our grandparents, parents, and now us. Two generations ago, following dreams might have been impossible unless you first had a lot of money. To some degree, that thinking has been filtered down to us.

      Our generation has been uniquely blessed to be able to pursue dreams from a young age, but as you say, it takes a while to break through the perceptions of what we “ought” to do and move on to what we want to do. I struggled with that for such a long time. The book Tuesdays with Morrie was a turning point for me. It put me in a different place, with a different mindset. I wish I could say that I still don’t wrestle with society and the perception of others on occasion, but at least now I can say that I see the bigger picture.

      I’m currently reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. In it, he talks about the pursuit of creativity and how we’re all restricted by this kind of resistance. If you enjoyed this, I think you should check it out when you get a chance.

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