Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
These words resonated with me. I read an article today which was written by a palliative care nurse. Her job is to help ensure that suffering in the last stage of her patients lives is minimised. These patients had been sent home to die. She would spend the last three to twelve weeks of their lives with them.
It was a powerful article and it really made me think – so I wanted to share it with you.
This nurse stated that people grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. She learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. She experienced some phenomenal changes. Each person 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.
What I found most interesting in her words were the five common themes surrounding regrets and things that people would do differently. They made me question what I would have done differently. ‘So many things’ was my instant thought…but I guess that I would not be the person that I am today had I done things differently. I rethought, and I am still rethinking!
I cannot change was has been, but I can bloody well influence what will be.
So here are those common themes…
1. I wish I’d 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 realise 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 honoured 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 try and honour 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 realise, until they no longer have it.
2. 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.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to themselves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Pretty powerful stuff I thought! I know that I have spent so much of my life worrying about what others think – whilst telling myself, and anyone that would listen, that I didn’t care about what other people thought of me. I spent far too much time worrying about work. I cared too much about material things. I judged people. I did what was expected of me. I towed the line.
Until my life was on the line, I didn’t give much thought to this kind of thing. My life was on the line due to my choices…so these clearly had to change. Those choices were a result of how I was feeling – my emotions – so I needed to deal with those. I came to realise that all that mattered to me was my loved ones – my family, my friends, my horses and my dog (who I class as family!)…does it really matter what car I drive, or what clothes I wear, or what watch is on my wrist? Does the job title really matter? Do the long hours at work really lead to more productivity? Do I need a big house when there is just the two of us? Do I need more money in a month than I know what to do with?
I feel happier now than I ever have I think. And I have less material wealth than ever before. But I have more love, support and focus on my well-being than ever before. I am getting less and less afraid to be me; to seek what I want. I no longer believe that I have to toe the line in order to become successful – if I am genuine, and honest, and love what I do…then good things will happen.
So have a read of those regrets again. If any of them strike a chord with you, maybe it is a good time to think about whether you could review things…to ensure that these regrets aren’t ones that you still feel in years to come.
Right then…after those rather thought-provoking excerpts from the article I read, I will move onto the usuals!
I woke up earlyish today. The postman came and the dog went mad and I needed a wee…no alarm clock needed. We then headed off to aquafit and after that we quickly popped to see the horses. Then it was a trip to Asda followed by an afternoon of me wrapped up in a hooded jumper with the heating and fire on…I cannot get warm at the moment! I finished watching Prison Break – rather emotional moments for me! – and have an evening of Breaking Bad planned as I have heard good things about it.
Breakfast: Banana porridge (5 syns).
A lovely food day! Brekkie set me up nicely for the gym and was my usual sachet of oats, made with water, topped with a chopped banana. Lunch was lovely. I do think that the smoked salmon trimmings are great with scrambled eggs. I had my wholemeal rolls toasted, topped them with loads of spinach, put the scrambled egg on top…and 1 of my 5 a day in cherry tomatoes! Dinner was gorgeous, but I got carried away watching Breaking Bad and so it got a little over-cooked! I bought some lamb steaks, trimmed off the fat, put some rosemary and garlic on it and then stuck this in the oven with courgette, butternut squash, pepper, red onion and mushrooms. I hadn’t had my HEAs yet so added some cheese to it too…lush. My snacks were gorgeous…the 0% Total Greek yogurt with a frozen berry selection, and Wotsits – the best cheesy crisp ever!
Exercise: 55 minutes of Aquafit.
Thank you for reading,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx