5 Regrets From the Dying

I read an article yesterday about a Nurse who cared for terminally ill patients during the last 3 months of their lives.  She listed the top five regrets that they shared and realized that we can learn a lot from them…from the clarity that they had at the end.  These are the regrets and how they relate to my life…

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.  They knew that due to choices they had made…most of their dreams were not realized or even attempted.  Because I’m at a fork in my journey right now, the realization that I can fundamentally alter the course of my life, has been driving me a bit crazy lately.  I’m trying to listen to the Universe/God and not over-analyze…but sometimes I do!  When there are other people that are affected by your choice, it becomes more difficult, especially for women who are taught to be un-selfish and I believe are typically just wired that way.

They realize that they took their health for granted and that there was a freedom attached to it!  This is one of the reasons I take good care of myself…exercise…eat right (most of the time)…etc.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

When I was 13 years old, I started buying all of my own clothes and funding any recreational outings by babysitting.  I worked full-time for 30 years and raised a child until the last few years…at which time I quit work to take care of my ill mother and do some traveling.  I’m back at a temporary full-time job and financially can’t retire any time soon.  My quest is to find a job that doesn’t feel like work…to do something I’m passionate about! But…I have the travel bug!  Should I become a digital nomad… somehow make money while I’m traveling or perhaps Teach English as a Second Language in a foreign country?  Universe…I’m listening!

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others and some developed illnesses because of the bitterness and resentment they held in.

This hasn’t been one of my issues.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

I regularly get together with my friends…I have a couple of girlfriends that I’ve known for over 40 years.  I’m open to having even more friends!

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The realization that happiness is a choice did not arise until the end for many of the patients.  People convinced themselves and others that they were content, when in reality, fear kept many of them from stepping outside of their comfort zone to reach for their dreams…to be silly…or to stop worrying and let joy take its place!

I am trying to become fearless!

43 thoughts on “5 Regrets From the Dying

  1. I resonate with this blog. The conversation(s) about end of life are often difficult and even a taboo in most family circles. My book “I Could Never Say Goodbye” will launch on April 2 – my hope is that it will launch conversations about death and dying – and help folks find a “better way” to help loved ones cross over.


  2. Sherry–
    One of the things I remember most about my parent’s friends was a sad comment made by one of Dad’s friends who was single and probably late 30’s at the time. He looked at me sadly one night and told me to enjoy high school because it would be the best time of my life. It wasn’t and I’ve always been grateful that I’ve looked for the next adventure my whole life. They’ve always been there. Every now and then I think about that man and how many years of his life were spent existing instead of living.

    Thanks for the reminder of the things that should always float to the top of our bucket lists no matter how full they are.


    PS Yeah, I too think you should “join the circus” and head overseas to teach.


  3. I read that news article – it was very interesting information that the nurse collected! I like your spin on it 🙂
    For teaching abroad, I can say from personal experience that the lifestyle of living in another country is fun, but it still ends up as just a job (I lived in Istanbul for six years and taught there). Teaching children is a nice twist to an ESL job, however. Also, I think teaching at one of the many orphanages in Asia might be even more rewarding. Glad you enjoying life!


  4. What an important post… thank you for sharing this. Our time here is so very brief and it is sad to me that so many people waste years complaining or wishing instead of creating, building, or discovering…

    “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” – Marcus Aurelius


  5. I loved this post, not for the reason of people harboring regrets but in the process little did they know they would be helping other people not make the same mistakes. Sometimes I yell at the universe, too 🙂 “Give me a sign already!” haha another FABULOUS post!


  6. I read this at the weekend too. It’s great isn’t it, such a good thing to put out in the world. Someone, and it was either Oscar Wilde or John Lennon, I forget who but saw it pinned up in someone’s office once, said no-one goes to their grave saying “I wish I’d spent more time at my desk”


  7. thank you for this post. Number one: living a life true to oneself, really resonates. I do not live the life others expect of me, but the stories, apprehensions, fears and false stories I create in my own head block living a life true to myself. I guess it is self-expectation (be safe! don’t fail!). The universe does call to us, if we are quiet enough to listen.


  8. One of the most important, especially as you grow older, is staying in touch with old friends. My college reunions with the “girls” every couple of years is utterly a blast. We regress in behavior, I admit, and talk pretty raunchy, but we laugh so much. These women made an indelible mark on my life, as we went through the women’s movement together, Vietnam war, and a time of great personal explorations. Stay in touch with friends, both old and new.


  9. This is very inspirational! I especially like number five – sometimes we can get in the way of our happiness. Choosing to be happy can make a big difference. Great post, Sherry! I hope the universe helps you to find what will make you truly happy at this fork in your journey!


  10. Talk about a life lesson! I am afraid I would be guilty of all five of these last thoughts. Like you, I am working on it…I just haven’t progressed as far yet.


  11. I suppose we all wish we could do some things over. That’s often because we’ve learned something from life. But except for small changes I would make if I could live life over, I feel very lucky. So far, so good.
    Interesting post. Thanks for sharing.


  12. Fear was always what stopped me from many things! I’m glad I’m figuring some of it out in my 50s! I’m slowly but surely getting the fact that while I will be as safe as possible, I need to go do the things I dream about because there are no guarantees I won’t be in a car accident tomorrow!


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