Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Regrets? I've Had A Few...Part One

The mother of one of my classmates passed away a few weeks ago, but instead of the traditional funeral, her family had a Celebration of Life. There are photos of family and friends at the celebration, everyone smiling and happy. It is what the mother wanted. While I thought "This is kind of cool", it all seems very foreign to me. A far cry from the sad funerals we are used to in America. So yesterday the classmate posted something on Facebook saying that her mother's doctor had given her a phone call expressing sympathy, but also said to her, "Your mom lived life like she wanted to".  What a fabulous statement. "Your mom lived life like she wanted to". Think about that. It stuck with me, and I made a comment saying how I would love for my own children to one day be able to say that about me. 

This morning I received an interesting email from Kitty. It was titled "The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying". An article that recounts the lessons of a hospice worker in Australia, from her departing patients. 

I think I would like to talk about it. But not all at one time. Let's just discuss the introduction and #1, for now.

Bronnie Ware writes: "For many years I worked in pallative care. My patients were those who have gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last 3 to 12 weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to under estimate 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 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 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 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."

It is very interesting to me, that seemingly all of these people made peace with death in the end. Interesting and comforting. There have been times in my life where I was very afraid to die. I have attributed this to my need to control. What will happen to my children if I die? Who will take care of things? I am not as afraid of death today, as I was 20 years ago. Even 10 years ago. I hope that I am able to fully make my peace with it before my time comes.

Now for the part about having the courage to live a life true to myself… I had such a flood of emotion and thought after I read this, I felt tears filling up my eyes. While it has all been by choice, or maybe a sense of obligation, a large part of my life has not been lived the way I wanted to live it. It is not what I expected. I have made changes in the past couple of years that are leading me in the right direction. Leading me to live the life I want, not the life others expect of me. I still have a long way to go. But this has made me realize, there is no time to waste. I want to take care of myself. I want to do fun things. I don't want to be scared of other people's reactions. I want to be confident in my decisions, in my choices, and with my life. I want my children to be able to say I lived my life like I wanted to!

Next time we will discuss the second regret.

No comments: