Common themes surfaced again and again...
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.
"When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again."
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"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
Studies show that there are these are the three causes of regret:
When we decide to not actively pursue the things that we want to, in retrospect, it will bring enduring regrets of what could have been. There are some things that we could have done at that time and some we could have prevented had we not done it.
Death and disease are unavoidable aspects of life. However, in the West, we've developed a delusional denial of this. We pour billions into prolonging life, most employed in our final years, but fail to value life. The most regrets of the dying are cited as follows:
People on their deathbeds regret not spending more time with their family, traveling more, worrying less, etc.
We change over time as we grow and mature. The fallacy is to think that the person you are on your deathbed knows how you should live your life right now.
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