Bronnie Ward, an Australian nurse who has spent time with patients during their last several weeks of life, wrote an article last year called “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying,” based on the conversations she had with her patients.
After compiling the answers, Ward said that among the most common regrets expressed by the patients were:
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish that I had let myself be happier.
She also wrote about one regret: I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This sentiment came from mostly male patients that she has nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.
Women also spoke of this regret. But as most women she has nursed were from a generation where they had not been breadwinners, there were less who mentioned it.
“All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence,” she wrote.
Family and relationship expert Hellen Chen, has had a similar experience.
“The deepest regret that I have heard has been men and women missing out on the most important part of life: the quality of their relationship in a marriage or with their children,” she said.
Chen specializes in working with men and women resistant to marriage. She says she helps them overcome their hopelessness and past disappointments so that they can say, “I do.”
“There are so many successful career professionals who came to me, from doctors to execs to CEOs,” she said. “They have everything in their life: money, house, stable career, talent. But all these accomplishments could not replace the void of a close companion to share their success with.”
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