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Tips for Transformation: The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

By Bronnie Ware ~

As a new year approaches, we tend to reflect on the decisions we have made and resolve to make changes for the year to come. With that in mind, we rediscovered a well-known article by Bronnie Ware and asked her to share why she believes "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying" made such an impact on people around the world.

Globally, this article has been translated into several languages and seems to have broken cultural barriers with incredible ease. Perhaps it is the simplicity and honesty of the article that has made it resonate with people. Hearing from those who were touched by the article has truly brought home to me just how alike we all are and how, sadly, we can all be influenced and driven by the wrong priorities and by fear.

I think, perhaps, the article’s greatest success is that it gives people the permission to be themselves and makes them aware of their choice and power to be that. It also reminds us that only we can be responsible for our own happiness or unhappiness in the long run.

People have told me that the article has given them strength to speak up and be themselves, that it has given them courage to make long awaited decisions and improvements on their lives, and that it has healed many relationships.

As for me, I grew to find comfort and honor in being such a messenger, to help people heal. I know that my own life too, has healed incredibly as a result of being around dying people.

THE TOP FIVE REGRETS OF THE DYING

For many years I worked in palliative care. 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.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to 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. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

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.

It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. 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. 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.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

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.

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. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. 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.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks- love and relationships.

5. 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.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Join the conversation: In the spirit of making changes for the new year, share this link with your loved ones and tell us: what is one way you will empower yourself in 2012?
 

*******

Bronnie Ware is a writer and songwriter from Australia, who spent several years as a caregiver for dying people. Based on this article, she has recently released a full-length book, also titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. For more information about Bronnie's work, please visit her official website at www.bronnieware.com and her blog at www.inspirationandchai.com.

SOURCED BY:

Sandy Holman, Director of The Culture C.O-.O.P

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