A humble blog has come to my attention, written by an Australian woman who hopes to inspire with her writings. It’s not the sort of thing I usually stop to read. But this woman, Bronnie Ware, mentioned that she’d worked in palliative care for years, and to her astonishment, the final regrets of so many of her dying patients turned out to be all of a kind.
In the interest of assisting those still alive, she listed them. They are so confronting and ring so true, they ask to be shared. They were:
1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life expected of me by others.
This was the most common lament – that so many had been bound up in a falsely constructed sense of self, made up of family expectations, self-limitations, pressures and conventions so constraining that one’s true voice could be barely be heard above the din of others’ requirements. It is a bitterly sad lament. And the first mention of something so rarely discussed: that it takes real ‘‘courage’’ to live life well.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
So the cliché is true: nobody ever said on their deathbed they wish they’d spent more time at the office. But you knew that already, didn’t you, and deep down you’ve known that for a while now. But will you have the guts to turn off the computer and go home to those who love you? Now?
Listen to Bec Sparrow and Robin Bailey discussing Bronnie Ware’s list of regrets, on The Well. Post continues after audio.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
For those of us who will emote and recount and expand and enlarge on our feelings at the slightest provocation, this one comes as a surprise: you mean there are people who can’t? What a psychological prison this must be. Many years ago, a rather worldly fellow who had feelings for me that I did not return, affectionately admonished me for disdaining him, telling me that I might not feel the same way, but I could not deny him the reality and the dignity of his feelings for me. I felt so small: feelings were not weaknesses, they required courage, optimism and respect.