Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. 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.
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.
None of these resonate with me, well, not exactly. Here’s my response:
1. I’ve never lived my life according to what others expected of me–sometimes to my regret. As for having the courage to live a life true to myself, I don’t think it was courage I lacked, I just didn’t know know what was true for me, I was always looking to others to tell me.
2. I liked working hard. Perhaps I didn’t work hard enough.
3. For the most part I’ve always expressed my feelings, not always well but it has been important to me to try to do so.
4. I have stayed in touch with friends. Plus I’ve regained Donna and Joan, a couple of old school chums from Zambia, who might never have been in my life anyway, but thanks to Facebook they are.
5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.” I don’t get this one. Perhaps because I’m a glass half full kind of person.
Right out of the gate, I could spew regrets all over the place. But when I give it serious consideration, I don’t think I have as many regrets as others. Perhaps because I’ve always believed that an unexamined life is not worth living and I’ve gone through some excruciating self-evaluations, culminating in the latest episode that prompted my memoir Loveyoubye. All I think about now is making the most of tomorrow. Perhaps when the time comes at the end, the very finality of leaving life will bring regrets I’m not aware of.