A life unfulfilled: Regrets of the dying

March 13, 2013|By MARIE GILBERT |
  • When faced with the reality of dying, many people experience regrets such as wishing they had spent more time with their families and not worked so hard.
Photo illustration by Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

It wasn’t how much money they made or how quickly they climbed the ladder of success.

It wasn’t the big homes or expensive cars, membership in the right social clubs or having a closet full of designer clothes.

In the end, none of that mattered.

Instead, they wished they would have set aside time to enjoy the things in life too often overlooked — sunrises and sunsets, reading a book with their children, an act of kindness toward a stranger.

Most people eventually learn the lessons of how to conduct a satisfying life. But for many, those lessons come too late.

Instead of being the person they could or should have been, they have spent a lifetime denying their true passions. They have missed tee-ball games and dance recitals, canceled dinner with friends and ignored the promise to their spouses of ’til death do us part.

And, in the end, what they thought was more important — the jobs, the money, the status, the cars — never brought about their ultimate goal: Fulfillment.

Now, as they face death, there is no time for do-overs. Instead, it’s a time for regrets.

In the best-selling book, “The Five Top Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing,” the author, Australian nurse Bronnie Ware, spoke with individuals who were approaching their final days and asked them if there were things in their past they would do differently.

It’s a thought-provoking look at how people lived their lives compared to how certain decisions pulled them away from the things that should have mattered the most.

The five most common regrets compiled by Ware included:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5.  I wish that I had let myself be happier.

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