“Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”

That’s the title of an article on the Huffington Post’s Good News Web page. Here’s an excerpt.

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 3 to 12 weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt 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 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 honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

There’s more at the link. Recommended reading.

As a pastor and chaplain, I’ve spent more than a little time with those who aren’t long for this world. I’d have to say that in my own experience, the author’s five points are pretty common, along with a few that she hasn’t mentioned (perhaps because, as a pastor, I’d be used to hearing about more spiritual concerns, but a palliative care professional might not be taken into her patients’ confidence in the same way).

I certainly think that all five points make worthwhile food for thought for all of us – while we’re still young and healthy enough to do something about them!


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