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The Dying Can Teach Us How To Live….

I recently did a short video series on my FB page about a topic I became fascinated with after I heard about this woman’s book—“The 5 Regrets of the Dying”. Bronnie Ware is the author and she was a palliative care nurse, which is a fancy way of saying hospice nurse, and this is truly a special occupation.  This is one of those jobs that caring people do because you know that your patient will not get better.  God bless anyone who does this work as I am not sure I could do it.  The mental health toll alone must be intense, but these folks see a purpose in helping their clients exit this life properly.  I just took a very long way to say being involved in palliative care is a higher calling, so thanks to anyone out there that engages in this work.

When I lived in Blythewood, SC, I watched a woman across the street from me slowly die and it was brutal.  She was a widow with no kids, and she had this big house full of stuff.  She may have been a borderline hoarder and when she was dying more people showed up for her stuff than for her.  It was so sad to watch.  I even witnessed the funeral home director come by with his van to take some patio furniture.  I’m pretty sure she would have traded all of that stuff for more time on this planet.

Time is our most precious of assets and I am the king of wasting it.  My phone and various other screens conspire against me and this will be on of my 2019 commitments—-less time online and more time living offline in community.  I do not want to die with that regret…in fact I would like to die with no regrets, but I have some already that I will be taking to the grave with me.  So, let’s focus on dying with fewer regrets going forward and that is where this book comes in to help up us.  Bronnie ware sat with those whose lifetime sand dial only held a few precious grains of sand left and she engaged them in conversation around regrets and 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 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.”

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.”

Knowledge is power and now that we know these regrets of the dying, how are you going to live?  As for me, less screen time and more living offline.  If I do that one thing, I am pretty sure my life will be enhanced.  So, one more time—how are you going to live knowing the regrets of the dying?



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