Though I cannot speak for everyone, most of us can agree that in life there are regrets. For some, those regrets can still be addressed, others cannot. For me, my biggest regret thus far is that I never had enough nerve to ask my parents while they were living questions about my childhood. Because I waited, I will never know from them why and when my parents divorced, as neither of them saw fit to take me with them as they started new lives. Lucky for me I ended up with my grandparents, so I had the best of both worlds. They were amazing and did a great job of parenting and an even better job of being the best grandparents a girl could have ever dreamed of having.
Do you ever stop and think about things you wish you had done in life? I once asked a friend if she had any regrets in life. She responded, “That it is never too late to remedy a regret.” I guess I can see where that could be true, but for those who have been given the diagnosis of a terminal illness, time may not be on their side, and instead of focusing on past regrets, they choose to make memories with family in the time they have left.
As I researched, I found many people share a lot the same regrets. Here are some of the most common regrets:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This is 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. Once a person loses their health, they realize it is too late in some cases to fulfill those dreams.
- I wish I did not work so hard.
This one is most common in men. They regret having worked so much they often missed their children’s sporting events, plays, and other significant childhood events.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others, mainly family members. As a result, they settled for a lesser existence and never become whom they were truly meant to be.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often over the years people tend to become so consumed with their own lives that they allow friendships once treasured to slip away. There are many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort they deserve. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Surprisingly, many people did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called “comfort zone” of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. The fear of change had them pretending to others, and themselves, that they were content.
Most of us do not ever truly realize we have had regrets over the years, and we become complacent and forget about goals we once thought were important to achieve. Often when faced with our own mortality, the reality of what we’ve missed in our lives quickly surfaces, and is in some cases is recognized for the first time as a regret.
I can only say this — live life to its fullest. Enjoy each day as though there are no tomorrows, and hopefully you will be able to leave this world without regrets. So instead of spending your last days saying you are sorry for not making it to your families’ big events, you can talk about all the fun you all had enjoying the events together.