Today I attended the funeral of one of my neighbors who has been living next to my parents‘ house long before I was born. Luckily she got quite old and didn’t suffer for long, yet funerals are always distressing, no matter if you have been close to the person who died or not.
During the ceremony, I thought about what she felt like during her last days. Was she happy and proud of what she left behind? Was she ready to die or did she wish to have more time despite her pain? Did she feel peaceful, melancholic or regretful? Did she wish she had worried less or traveled more? I will never now.
I recently found an article about a palliative nurse who documented the top 5 regrets of the dying that I’ve been re-reading today after I came back from the funeral. I think this article is very valuable, since who knows better what truly matters in life than those who are at the end of it? So today, I want to share my own thoughts on these regrets.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Self-fulfillment is a topic that has been heavily discussed during the last couple of years, especially among Millenials. And that’s for a good reason. There’s nothing more frustrating than not living the life you want to live. Many people don’t dare to try following their dreams and play the safe bet instead.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
I’m hopefully far away from dying soon, yet I can strongly relate to this one. I believe nobody thinks at the end of their lives: Damn, I could have spent so much more time at the office. I really wish I had worked more. Of course, if you genuinely love your job, that might be different, but I guess that even if you love what you’re doing it’s still nice to step back sometimes and do other things that are even more enjoyable.
I believe nobody thinks at the end of their lives: Damn, I could have spent so much more time at the office. I really wish I had worked more.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
I really think that’s a difficult one. Maybe even the most difficult of these five. To always speak your truth and express how you are feeling is far from easy, especially if you fear being misunderstood.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Not every friendship lasts for a lifetime and that’s totally normal. If you’d stayed in touch with every single person you once called a friend, you wouldn’t have the time to build strong relationships and had to rely on loose connections only. However, do your part in maintaining the friendships that actually matter to you.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
You know the drill. We’re often waiting for the next weekend, the next holiday or the next summer to arrive. We believe that once these moments are here, we will be happier, but that’s nothing more than an illusion. We need to learn to be happy right now instead of at a distant point in the future. I already wrote a whole blog post about living in the present moment. You can read it here.
Having that said, we need to keep in mind that not all of us will turn 80, 70 or even 60 years old. We think we have time, but our lives could be over in a split second. We never know what tomorrow will bring, so we shouldn’t put our dreams off for some distant point in the future that may never arrive. Making mistakes is inevitable, yet we can try to avoid repeating, or at least reducing other peoples‘ mistakes to live a more fulfilled life.