In the face of mortality, many thoughts and emotions will fill the last days of your life. With little time left, one often think about regrets – and what you would do differently had you been given a second chance. Bronnie Ware is a palliative care nurse in Australia and the author of “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing” – and has shared some of her interactions with many patients who have just days to live. In her book and blog, she tells us what the 5 biggest regrets of the dying are.
- “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” To live your life and do the things that you truly want often takes courage – and this is the most common regret at the end. What are your dreams that remains unfulfilled – is your “bucket list” half-full or half-empty? Take some time to honour your own wishes and dreams – or at least some of them – before it is too late.
- “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.” This is probably true in the hectic work culture in Singapore. Struggling to make a better life for our family by working those long hours and making countless trips overseas do come at the price of not spending time with the people that you love or missing being with your kids as they are growing up. Just remember that you will never be able to get back the time lost.
- “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.” People hide or suppress their feelings for many reasons – sometime to keep the peace and other times because they are afraid to do so. Bottling it all inside means that you are not true to yourself. Being able to express your feelings is one thing that will “set you free”.
- “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.” In your final days, wealth and stature has little meaning – what is deeply meaningful are the memories of friends that have journeyed the years with you. The memories of these relationships are truly golden and something that you will hold dear in your heart.
- “I wish that I had let myself be happier.” This may or may not surprise you — that happiness is a choice that you make. You longed for laughter but you have held back for whatever reasons. Sometimes you convince yourself that you are already “happy” and accept your circumstances in life – for fear of change. If you compromise enough, you will never truly be as happy as you can be.
Everyone probably have one or more regrets at the end of their days — especially if you have time to ponder about them. Another way is to fast forward and imagine what regrets you will have when the time comes – and do something about them while time is still on your side.