Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

I'm feeling a little bit sorry for myself today.  The weather is gloomy; I didn't sleep very well and yesterday was my annual MS Clinic check-up.  Nothing has changed there, and there is nothing to worry about, which is good news.  However, it's always a reminder that the MS is part of my journey, even if most days I can forget that.

All of which leads me, semi-sideways, into what I wanted to post about today.  Last week, on Facebook, someone shared an article from called Top Five Regrets of the Dying.  This article is about eighteen months old now, but I hadn't ever encountered it before.  It is based on a blog post by a palliative care nurse named Bronnie Ware.  After working, caring for people in their last weeks of life, she started to notice some common themes, which prompted the blog and even a subsequent book.

In brief, the top five regrets 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 I had let myself be happier.

I'm not sure if these come as a surprise to most people; I guess they didn't really to me.  I noticed some things though, that relate back to topics already touched on in this blog.  The first is fear; a couple of these regrets lament a lack of courage.  The second I guess is best described as awareness - the realization of time passing us by and what is important before it's too late.

And that is one of the gifts that menopause brings us.  We are made aware of the passage of time.  It's not always something we welcome as we see the grey hairs and wrinkles start to appear (I'm fighting those, kicking and screaming!).  But it's a new phase of our lives, and a chance to 'fix' things, for want of a better way to put it.  We still have time to dust off our dreams, say the important words, look up our old friends and choose to be happier.

That is one of the reasons why I started this blog in a way.  Apart from the fact that the idea intrigued me, it was a way to try and be more authentic; to become the writer I had dreamt of being for many years, to be more true to myself.  It has also given me the opportunity to share some of my own fears and the ways I am trying to overcome.

I know I don't always make the right decisions.  I've detailed here how much time I've wasted in years past.  Knowing that happiness is a choice, today I still chose self-pity!  But tomorrow will be a new day.  The sun will shine (hopefully!) and after a good night's sleep, the world will once again appear to be what it is - full of hope and opportunity. 

The article in The Guardian ends by posing some soul-searching questions, and I'm going to end the same way.  Do you have any regrets in life so far?  Can that be changed?  How would you like to change, or what would you like to accomplish before you die?  And no, I don't want to know the answers to these questions!! (Although comments are always welcome).  But they made me think, and I hope they will do the same for you.



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