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je (ne) regrette (rien)

Someone sent me an essay on “Regrets of the dying” by the Australian song-writer Bronnie Ware. It reminds me that ‘the dying’ are not a separate species from ‘the living;’ they may just be a tad clearer on what truly matters. May their insights guide us towards our own awakening. Here are the first (of five) regrets: 

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 learned 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.

I wish I 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 honored 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 honor 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 realize, until they no longer have it.

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.

More at; image:


7 responses »

  1. Non. Non. Je regrette rien!

  2. Peter I had to go read the other three before I could even stop and respond. These five capture the tenants/principles I practice – everyday… not always easily, not always with grace but consciously choosing. I summarize this way of living as a life of simple abundance… Thank you so much for this find, for its depth and clarity.

  3. i too read these and thought to myself that it is a good reminder. iit is the way i want to live my life… with no regrets! as creative potager suggests, not always easy and a good framework to start from – in the scheme of things i am supremely blessed.

  4. Peter wrote to Bronnie asking for permission to reprint her article. Her reply included the following:

    Thank you for the connection Peter. You are very welcome to re-post it as you have. The more people it helps the better. And I appreciate the link. It is the right thing to do and is what I have requested of others who have sent a similar request previously.

    Warm wishes from a spring day here in Australia,

  5. Peter, I tried to find something I had read a number of times which states the things that dying people want to say to loved ones and I was unable to find it. But I know it includes these:
    I forgive you.
    Do you forgive me?
    I love you.
    If anyone knows/remembers the others please post.


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