‘Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’

When my friend Mike Connell told me he was going into hospice, my heart broke. When my mother started receiving palliative care, everything changed.

I know, I know. This is a morbid post. But, bear with me.

Ever since Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos told me about his desire to avoid life regrets, I’ve been trying to find the survey to which he referred. Apparently, there is a survey of the elderly that asked about their greatest accomplishments and regrets. I cannot find it.

But, this morning, I found online this book. A palliative care nurse wrote it. So, below, are the “Top 5 Regrets of the Dying,” via an article I found (here).

There is much below to contemplate. We truly become the sum of our choices.

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. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked 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.”

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.”

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.”

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 themselves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

2 thoughts on “‘Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’

  1. Great post. Made me think of my own choices. I’ve definitely chosen the “road less traveled”. Yale Undergrad. Boston based entrepreneur. Helping start up BlueIvyVentures (www.blueivyventures.com), a Yale oriented VC. Also spawning new companies out of my incubator, incubetainc.com. Most advanced example is intelycare.com (currently raising Series A as CEO).

    Would be great to connect Jo!

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