It really captured the media when a palliative nurse in Australia revealed the most common regrets of people dying and put them into a book entitled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. They were:
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.
It is possible to avoid such regrets in life and leave peacefully without any sorrow over the past. There are many things that we don’t have control over, such as other people dying, but we can’t really count them as our own regrets. What is key in a health sense is that Bronnie Ware, the Australian nurse, claimed that those people who settled for a mediocre existence by suppressing their feelings to keep the peace, developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried. This is real acknowledgement of the connection between mind, body and spirit.
She also claimed that every male patient she nursed felt that they had misse dtheir children’s youth and their partner’s companionship through working too hard. These men felt sad that they had spent a large part of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
It’s a real lesson in living life in the present and being aware that you are being true to yourself. In the words of the author, ‘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.’