Bronnie Ware spent eight years working as a nurse in palliative care with people who had gone home to die and spent time with them during the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
In her memoir, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, she talks writes about the themes that emerged from conversations with them and expanded on the most common ones.
We live our lives surrounded by expectations and sometimes lose sight of the things that really matter to us.
It’s easy to follow a career path for good practical reasons, but then end up wishing one had the courage to do what one had really wanted.
The book reminds us that our lives are made up of choices, and we need to experience it when we have the ability to still make those choices.
When we lose our health, for example, many choices are curtailed – and we may not realise what we have lost until we no longer have it.
Many people wished they hadn’t worked so hard – certainly from every male patient.
Perhaps when you do what you enjoy, it feels less like work.
Work is clearly important – but we may have less regret at the end if we get the balance right.
Many of us suppress our feelings – either to get on with others or because we don’t have the courage to say how we feel.
Being able to do that either makes things better, or closes the chapter on an unhealthy relationship.
Whatever happens, we’re better off.
Perhaps before the age of the internet, many people regretted losing touch with their friends.
With the internet, perhaps we can’t lose track of them, but we still need to spend time with them.
In the end, according to Bonnie, it’s only the relationships that remain in the final weeks.
Finally – many people did not realize that being happy was a choice until it was too late.
Patterns and habits built up over years can get in the way of just letting ourselves be happy.
In the end, whether we have regrets or not depends on the choices we make throughout life.