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Reflecting this morning, I recalled a phrase I’ve used many times over, in coaching interviews for departing missionaries these last few weeks.
I interview them when they still have a few weeks to serve. In our time together, I share the phrase “𝒏𝒐 𝒓𝒆𝒈𝒓𝒆𝒕𝒔” and we discuss together what it means for them.
It got me thinking more broadly about “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” (Bronnie Ware 2012)
As a Palliative care nurse, Bronnie’s life was transformed by tending to the needs of those who were dying. In her book she writes about the most common regrets that the people she had cared for had expressed to her.
Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as shared by Ware:
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.
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 realise 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.”
𝟓. 𝐈 𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐥𝐞𝐭 𝐦𝐲𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐛𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐞𝐫.
“Many did not realise 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 their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
What would your biggest 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐭 be if this was your last day of life?
What will you set out to change today?