The 5 Regrets

I read this the other night on Paulo Coelho’s blog and thought it really needed to be shared.  Apparently he received this list from a friend of his that has worked as an end-of-life nurse for many years.  Upon reflection at the end of their lives, it seemed that there was a certain synchronicity in the regrets he most often heard from his patients.  Here they are…

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

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 to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.  From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. 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 their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

Today is my grandmother Amelia’s birthday.  She would have been 96 years old.  Growing up, I was very close with both her and my grandfather.  They taught me many lessons that I still carry with me to this very day – as I carry their spirits with me.  The greatest lesson I learned from her though was that a life of true happiness is a personal choice, and it’s one that requires a great deal of deep, personal courage.  I’m reminded of her as I read this list, and comforted by the knowledge that when she passed 8 years ago these regrets did not travel with her.

I’d like to say that I’d be lucky to live life the same way…but as she taught me it’s not a matter of luck, it’s one of choice.

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~ by Dan Fabrizio on December 27, 2011.

One Response to “The 5 Regrets”

  1. So wise of you so young, Danny, to pick up on Grandma’s feelings on being happy. As a young girl and woman, Grandma had so much to be unhappy about. But, she always looked at the bright side of even the darkest of situations. Sharing with me as her daughter that it’s okay and will be okay. And, so I too have found happiness on some very unhappy life’s moments. But, it is my choice and will always be my choice as you so eloquently say.

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