A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.’ What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?
• Bronnie Ware: ‘Writing Top Five Regrets of the Dying has brought me to tears.’
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The top five regrets of the dying
There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. A palliative nurse who has counseled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men, in particular, is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
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. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives and how we might learn from their wisdom. “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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Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:
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 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 many female patients had not been breadwinners as most were from an older generation. 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 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 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.”
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 their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
Solidarity and love can handiest be fostered thru genuine personal encounters, so if we outsource the worrying to robots, I’m not certain there will be enough to sustain the connection, enough to inspire us to forestall by using for a chat or call on her birthday.
A cow is milked through a milking robotic farm in Fritz, close to Nantes, western France.
A cow is milked by way of a milking robot at a farm in Fritz, close to Nantes, western France. Photograph: Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty Images
The same is genuine for different components of our lives. If we depart the toughest, uninteresting or frustrating work to robots, this could alternate our capacity and urge for food for greater stimulating or meaningful paintings. Humans are creatures of habit – the first time we do something, and it’s hard; however, it gets less difficult over time. A recent anti-smoking ad tells us that “each time you quit, you get a touch bit better at it.” The equal is real for the whole lot else in human behavior: each time you work at something hard, you get a little more perseverant, on every occasion you deliver yourself to a person else, you get a bit greater charitable, and so on.
What’s your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?