Bronnie Ware has spent years in “palliative care” – meaning she works with those who know they are dying. Her article Regrets of the Dying is very interesting reading, and I highly suggest you check it out.
First, I am encouraged by her saying many people make significant changes in their last days and weeks. We think we cannot change, or cannot change much, but this is not true. Our change is limited by our fears and self-imposed limits.
Below are the top five regrets of the dying, according to Bronnie. The comments are mine.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I am all for sacrificing for others, but that’s not the same as allowing others to limit us, or push us to be what they want us to be. This would include not being as good a husband or father as you could be because of what others will think of you. Additionally, do all you can to ensure your bride does not feel this regret at the end of her life. Do not do it to her, and do not allow anyone else to do it to her.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
I have spoken of this before. Work should be how we make money, not a way to make us feel we have worth and value.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Do not go along to get along – it is dishonest and it does not build great relationships. If you choose to let something go, fine, but if it eats at you then you have not really let it go.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
This is a bigger and bigger issue as our society becomes more and more mobile. Long-term friends are a benefit in many ways, and we need to learn how to value and keep those friendships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Yes, it is a choice. Even if your life sucks, happiness is a choice you can make; you can be a lot less stressed and a lot more happy if you change how you think and act.
All of these can be taken in wrong directions, can be done in selfish and destructive ways. However, the similarity of the five says something about our society, and it would be good for us to examine our lives and consider if we may one day have these regrets. It might be a powerful discussion to have with your bride.