Lessons from the seriously ill

A long-time hospice nurse—someone deeply committed to caring for the seriously ill—created this list of the top five deathbed regrets she frequently observed in her patients. She vowed to take these lessons to heart. Do any of these ring true for you?

  • I wish I had lived MY life, not the life others expected of me. There’s no vitality in merely “being good” in the eyes of others. Doing things to please others will simply leave you feeling empty. Doing things that reflect your personal values will leave you feeling fulfilled.
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. Between work and caregiving, are you allowing for quality time with people you love? What can you do to make more time available?
  • I wish I had expressed my feelings more. It does take courage to let others know your thoughts and feelings. Such intimacy also adds meaning to relationships.
  • I wish I had stayed connected with friends. What is cherished most in the end isn’t fame or money, but relationships. The priceless joy of being loved and giving love. Even with your time limited by caregiving, pick a few relationships to nurture.
  • I wish I had let myself be happier. We don’t have choice about many things in life. But we do control what we spend our time thinking about. We can worry. We can be sad or angry. Or, instead, we can practice focusing on the things that ARE going well in our lives.

It never hurts to stop and take stock of your life. Use any regrets as a springboard for future action, bringing your deepest priorities and personal values to the fore.