Let The Old Dreams Die We Have Found New Ones Top Five Regrets of the Dying

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Top Five Regrets of the Dying

I have worked in palliative care for many years. My patients were the ones who had gone home to die. Some very special moments 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 learned to never underestimate one’s ability to grow. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a range of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, regret, more denial and finally acceptance. However, every patient found their peace before leaving, every single one of them.

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

1. I wish I had the courage to live a true life for myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their lives are almost over and look at it clearly, it’s easy to see how many dreams remain unfulfilled. Most people haven’t honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing it was because of choices they made or didn’t make.

It is very important to try and respect at least some of your dreams along the way. By the time you lose health, it’s too late. Health brings a freedom that few realize until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so much.

This came from every male patient I breastfed. They missed the youth of their children and the companionship of their partner. The women also spoke about this regret. But since most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All the men I nursed greatly regretted spending so much of their lives in the routine of a working existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, you may not need the income you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new possibilities, more suitable for your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings 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 diseases developed in relation to the resulting bitterness and unhappiness.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, even though people may initially react when you change the way you’re speaking honestly, in the end it takes the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or rid the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they wouldn’t really realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it wasn’t always possible to track them down. Many of them were so caught up in their own lives that they let golden friendships slip away over the years. There were many deep regrets for not giving friendships the time and effort they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It’s common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when faced with impending death, the physical details of life disappear. People want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it’s not money or status that really matters to them. They want to fix things more for the good of those they love. However, usually, they are too sick and tired to ever manage this task. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That’s all that remains in the last weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

This is surprisingly common. Many did not fully understand that happiness is a choice. They were stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity seeped into their emotions as well as their physical lives. Fear of change made them pretend to others and themselves that they were content. When they got deep inside, they wanted to laugh properly and have silliness in their lives again.

When you’re on your deathbed, what others think of you is far from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you die.

Life is a choice. It’s YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

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