Lessons From The Grave: Don’t Live With Regret
“For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared and I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives, a lot was divulged in this time,” says a palliative care nurse who chose to reveal to Collective Evolution, the biggest regrets expressed by those on their death bed.
In an interview with the nurse, who wants to remain anonymous, she explained that people grow when they are faced with their own mortality. “I learnt to never underestimate someone’s capacity for growth.
Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance,” she says, “Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.”
The top 5 regrets people expressed on their death beds:
“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 they tend to look back more clearly. “Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to the choices they had made, or not made,” the nurse said.
“I wish I didn’t work so hard”
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship, while they were still alive,” she explained. She said that she often came across women who expressed this regret too, but as most were from an older generation, many of her 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,” she said.
“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”
The nurse said that many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others and in order to not tread on any toes. 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, which is often the case when it comes to old age.
“We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level,” she says. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. It’s a win-win.
“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”
Another major regret was not staying in contact with old friends. “Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let go of friendships that had once meant the world to them,” the nurse explains. There were deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Often the importance of a true friend it only realized when it is too late to get in contact, to apologize for an old argument or to say thank you for being there when you needed it most.
“I wish that I had let myself be happier”
“This is a surprisingly common one,” explained the nurse, “Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice, and not something that just happens. 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.”
Choosing to be happy, to live, to love, to forgive, to laugh, to experience and to grow is something we can only rely on ourselves for. We need to make the choice – happiness or regret?
The mindful experience to happiness! Follow the link to read more.