5 Regrets On Their Deathbed


My good friend Alec Ee sent me this …

Alec Ee’s Portfolio.

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality.

I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance.

Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them. When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again.

Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits.

The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to themselves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Source of the above article.


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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6 Responses to 5 Regrets On Their Deathbed

  1. agongkia says:

    I wish that I grew up in a place that I can marry more wives of different nationality and have many children crowding and flooding my bedroom before I leave.

    • Lol! You want many wives of diff nationalities and lots of children? I’m different from you. I would prefer to slip away quietly and peacefully alone by myself if possible. No need anyone around. It’s alrite with me. Let me go off on my own terms at my own pace. I’m the opposite of you!

  2. patriot says:

    To have a ‘complete’ existence, the natural course of nature has to be fulfilled as and when it happens. To be born, grow, age and die entail much in between and amongst the stages; the love and nurture from the parents and elders in some ways make one who he/she is. He and she then repeat the same cycle to their own creations. As one grows and matures, one has to learn and work to be independent and be followed through by teaching the young to go through the same processes.

    Nature makes one to need a mate and looking for a lifelong partner becomes an important part of most, if not all beings. Humans, being complex, has the most intricate, complicate and intrigue rite and behaviour with regard to marraige, a term used only by human beings for union of two people usually of the opposite sex.
    Personally, me am of the view that marriage arises out of the natural need for sexual need and obviously the strong affection one has for another culminates in the union of husband and wife.

    Having child(ren) is the next natural progression when a couple consummates their union, historically and traditionally has to be approved and sanctioned by their elders as well as the society at large. The joy and problem of bringing up the next generation vary to the extremes, however and luckily, most do fine.

    As one normal person and at more than six decades old, me has gone through much of the agony, trepidation, joy and disappointment in living much like most others. With references to Agongkia’s and Gintai’s opposite views of self, marriage and family, should I say that humans today have right of choice as far as marriage is concerned.

    Most cultures have traditions of wanting to have big happy families with the youngs giving lots of joy and the seniors giving plenty of love. May I say that when the wishes of the old and young are achieved, living would be meaningful. AND WHEN HAPPY FAMILIES ARE AUGMENTED BY BENEVOLENT RULERS, humans could indeed have paradise on Earth.


    • Hi Patriot,
      I see your interesting traditional views with large extended family, children, grandchildren and so on. However, like I say I do not share this view at all. I am of the opposite view. I would rather my body go straight to Mandai crematorium and burn it away. Thereafter throw the ashes into the sea to feed the fish ! I would rather live for myself and come face to death on my own terms. No need to trouble ppl at all.

      Shakespeare says about 400 yrs ago …
      ” Golden lads and girls all must,
      As chimney sweepers must all come to dust!”

      It is still true to this day. No need time consuming and wasting money rituals! Though we are only one cycle apart but we share vast differences on this aspect! Langgar.

  3. bookjunkie says:

    thanks so much for sharing this…very enlightening…made me think about what changes I should make.

    • Just live for yourself. Do not live your life according to what others think. In the end, you will have to walk on your own without others following you. This is a transient world where all mortals must and will surely will have to come to terms. You choose it which way to go. In the meantime live your own life as happy as you wish. Cheers.

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