What We Can Learn From The Dying

dying-wife-istockI’ve read a lot of books and information about death, grief and suicide. Those books have been both some of the most depressing and uplifting books I have ever read. Some of the most interesting books have been on people who were terminally ill like a book written by Bronnie Ware called The Five Regrets of the Dying.

We can learn a lot from the regrets of the  dying as regrets can give us insight if we look at them as things we can change so that hopefully we won’t have the same regrets. Here we’ll talk about the top five regrets of the dying as mentioned in The Five Regret.

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me: Many of us live lives that are inauthentic to who we really are and what we really want. It’s hard not to when we have been bombarded since birth by our parents and later by society about who we should be and what we should want, even when it contradicts our true desires. Even more disturbing is that many of us have been so brainwashed that we don’t even know when we are living inauthentic and think that the thoughts and goals that have been inserted inside of our minds by culture, society and family, are really our own when in fact they may be keeping us from living authentically. Something we can work on is recognizing this and attempting to live a life that is more inline with our true desires and goals.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard: We are taught that we are supposed to work hard and as a matter of fact, many people enjoy working hard, but many use working hard to escape dealing with other issues or work hard because it is what is expected of them. However, most people who are dying wished they would have spent more time doing things that nourished them, such as hobbies or spending time with friends and family, instead of working and collecting material items that now serve them little to no purpose. Sometimes we must work hard in order to pay the bills and “free time” doesn’t seem like an option, but we still have to find the time to do things that will serve us better spiritually.
  3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings: How many times do we hold our tongues and not say the things we really want to say to family, friends, etc? We end up becoming passive and not assertive in order to save face or avoid a potential argument. Furthermore, a lot of people have trouble expressing love and affection and miss out on opportunities to let others know how they truly feel about them. In order for us to live a life with less regrets, we have to live a more authentic life where we are not only in touch with our true feelings,  but are able to express them.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends: It’s easy with the pressures of life and how fast paced  things can be, to lose touch with our friends, but having healthy, nurturing relationships adds to the overall happiness and quality of life. Maybe today you can find a way to start re-connecting with good and healthy people that will help bring joy to your life.
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier: In the book Five Regrets of the Dying, most people didn’t realize until they were dying that happiness is a choice. Sure things happen to us, many that are out of our control, but we still choose how to deal with that situation and how we will let it affect us. We can start becoming more aware and make more  conscious decisions about how to deal and respond to those situations instead of allowing them to bring us down, make us angry or throw us for a loop.

The good thing about other peoples mistakes and regrets is that we can learn from them and hopefully not end up having the same regrets. We can all start today by looking over this list and incorporating our own so that we can live a happier, more authentic life.

Dying Changes Everything

My New Grief Group Part 2

Grief work is definitely an extremely rewarding experience. My grief group is still my favorite group of all and we are on week four I think. There is just so much I get out of the group and yet it is one of the most emotionally draining parts of my week.

Last week one of the members came to me in private and broke down crying. She was angry, angry at God, angry at her mother and angry at herself. She blamed God for taking her mother. She blamed her mother for not telling her she was going to die (her mother was sick and she assumed her mother knew just how terminally ill she really was) and she blamed herself for not being there when her mother died (as if she were psychic).

I listened to her frustrations and processed her irrational thoughts with her, but it was hard for me to see and hear such a beautiful girl in so much emotional pain, knowing that the only thing that could make her happy was implausible. So much had changed in her life since her mother had passed away…

Her mother was her sole guardian, so right now no one has any real guardianship legally over her although she is staying with an aunt. Her grades in school are suffering and her dreams for the future have been derailed because “nothing matters any more”. At seventeen, in high school, no one should lose their mother. “It’s not fair” are the words she cried out and I agree with her, it’s not fair, but it’s what happened and now we have to try to find the strength and the courage to move on. The road ahead is not easy, but it is doable. It’s at these times I definitely try to encourage my clients spiritual beliefs, because at times like this, they are often all we have to try to make some since of what has happened, why it has happened, and how to move forward.

I would do anything to make this client and all the clients in my grief group happier, and I know the fifty minutes they spend with me a week processing and dealing with their feelings over thier loved ones death may not always be the most pleasant way to spend their time, but I know it is necessary to deal with it now while it is fresh than to bury it and have to deal with it repeatedly later in life.