When Bronnie Ware was a nurse in a terminal palliative care unit, she spent a lot of time talking to her patients. “My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives,” said Bronnie.
After listening to their stories, she decided to poll her patients in their last days in hopes to uncover any regrets so others may learn.
“Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance.
“When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again,” shared Bronnie.
Here are the top 10 greatest regrets often said by many…
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 realise 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 honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made,” said Bronnie.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
Bronnie revealed, “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,” she said.
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. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result,” said Bronnie.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. “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,” Bronnie shared.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. “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,” said Bronnie.
6. I wish I had children.
In a true story, a woman named Natalie Myers delayed having children so that she could focus on her career. Unfortunately, by the time she wanted to have kids, she discovered that she had already been suffering with ovarian cancer stage 3. Her dreams of having little ones were crushed and two years later, she died.
7. I never pursued my dreams and aspirations.
When Marie was younger, she studied in France. But a few years after that, she decided to come back to her home country. For years she dreamt about going back to Paris to live her dream as a poet but kept the idea on the back-burner until it was too late.
8. I should have stood up for myself.
Julia Osmand was physically abused by her husband for 30 years until she decided to run away one day. “I wish I had done that sooner because I’ve just realised that I could have spent those 30 years differently.”
9. I should have said ‘I love you’ a lot more.
Many people tend to feel shy or hold back when it comes to expressing their feelings. Some may have come from a family that is less expressive and that may have had an impact on how they express their feelings. Don’t forget to tell your loved ones how much you love them because it only takes three words.
10. I should have saved more money for my retirement.
Sally spent most of her money on handbags and shoes instead of investing properly or saving for her golden years. “Every time I think about those glamorous years, I feel like an absolute fool. I lived a flamboyant life and now I depend on handouts and help from family and friends. If only I can turn back time,” she said.
These are just what others have said about what their own regrets. Some people say, in life there are no regrets; just lessons.