Five Wishes, from the book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”
Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, spent years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies into a book called “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”
“When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”
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. 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.”
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many 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.”
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
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.”
What’s your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?