Most work in identifying the regrets of patients facing terminal illness are books and articles of people who have expressed opinion. One needs to be cognisant of the fact that this is a time in life where emotions are heightened, and it is a unique time in life. Most have never been here before, and most do not return to this period. This makes it difficult to identify, scientifically what the position of people actually are. Genuine research is difficult to find.
The two publications below, however have a similar outcome. In simple terms, people facing mortality, have less regrets than those that are not. Is it that it is too late? Is it that there are too many other things going on? Is it a natural human thing, when the chips are down, to not regret things you can’t change?
Bonnie Ware is the author of the book “Top Five Regrets of the Dying : A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.” Despite having no formal qualifications or experience, she found herself working in palliative care. In Palliative care, the focus is the patient and so all efforts are to bring them comfort and dignity. A poor place, one could suggest, to propose questions while being a provider of care?
In short, regret is something we should be assessing every day, and always through life. Ware’s list has obvious merit, and suggests changes to be made while living. A regret in a way, is a target for avoidance and so the opposite is the actual suggestion. So during Youth Month, and Youth Day in South Africa, it does make sense for us to say:
- Be courageous, and live a life true to yourself, not the life others expected of you.
- Work is just one element of your life, spend your time wisely.
- Be courageous, and express your feelings.
- Keep in touch with your family and friends.
- Let yourself be happier, it is an easy choice.
Do these things, not to avoid regret when you can’t go back and change it… but because they make sense? Have a great Youth Month, and an amazing life ahead. Make choices where you can limit regrets every day, and remember as we say here at the Hospice, “Every Day Matters!”
Selma Carolin Rudert, Leonie Reutner, Mirella Walker, and Rainer Greifeneder (2015) An unscathed past in the face of death: Mortality salience reduces individuals’ regrets ~ Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Volume 58, May 2015 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022103114002091
Robert A. Neimeyer, Joseph M. Currier, Rachel Coleman, Adrian Tomer & Emily Samuel (2011) Confronting Suffering and Death at the End of Life: The Impact of Religiosity, Psychosocial Factors, and Life Regret Among Hospice Patients, Death Studies, 35:9, 777-800, DOI: 10.1080/07481187.2011.583200 https://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080%2F07481187.2011.583200