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"Express your uniqueness,and leave
a lasting imprint on the world." (M. Dezelic)
The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying- Teaching Us How to Live Meaningfully Today
© 2015 by M. Dezelic
Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse who has counseled the dying in their last days of life, recorded their dying reflections and put her findings into a book entitled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.”
How might we learn from those facing their own temporal existence and mortality, to seize the current unique moment, and live fully and meaningfully? This may be accomplished through the discovery of “Meaning in Life” by becoming aware of and tapping into the “Meaning Triangle”—(1) our individual “creativity,” (2) the “experiences” we engage in and share with others, and (3) our “attitude” in the face of difficult and tragic situations, or through “Self-Transcendence”—giving of ourselves to the people we love or the causes we serve.
We are “responsible” to our own existence, and response-“able” in any given moment, regardless of the circumstance. We have this moment in the present to make a difference in our own life, and in the lives of those we love, care for, our community, and those we serve. This is your existential “freedom” and “choice” for your own life, for what you choose to do, act, and “be” from this day forward.
The top five regrets of the dying, (listed in B. Ware’s book):
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. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”
2. I wish I hadn't worked 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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”