It's not a happy thought, thinking about what you'll regret in life as you lie slowly dying on what will become your deathbed. But for some people that is the only time in life that they've slowed down enough to take stock of their existence and consider what it was about, what they accomplished, and what they never did.
In an article for Wake Up World, nurse and author of "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing" Bronnie Ware, who has treated many patients with serious illnesses and been with many in their last days, gives a brief summary of what she has learned.
While she doesn't write this article from a Christian perspective and does not address the regret of people who wished they had lived more for Christ and dedicated more of their life to serving Him, it is interesting to see what she has discovered from her dying patients.
Here are their top five regrets she lists:
1. "I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."
Ware says most people feel that they didn't put enough effort into fulfilling even half of their dreams.
2. "I wish I didn't work so hard."
Ware has heard this from every one of her male patients and some of her female patients who had been breadwinners. Patients regret not spending more quality time with their spouse and children.
3. "I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings."
Ware points out a frightening trend of patients letting bitterness towards another person stay undealt with for years, and that bitterness can even contribute to their illnesses.
4. "I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends."
Ware says everyone misses their friends when they're dying, but they also wish that they had invested more in their friendships rather than being so busy and had not let the closest ones slip away. They struggle to get in touch with old friends on short notice but often find that there's not enough time left.
5. "I wish that I had let myself be happier."
Ware points out that there's a difference between true happiness and merely being comfortable in life. She says many people allow themselves to fall into the latter category and fool themselves into thinking that sticking with routines and patterns and not leaving their "comfort zone" is making them content.
What do you think of these? Is there something different you might regret?