By Fr Ultan McGoohan
There was an interesting article a month or so ago in the Sunday Times. A lady who has spent a number of years working with people who are dying in hospices in England has written a book about her experiences. In the book she has compiled the top five regrets of the dying and they make for interesting reading. People who know that their lives are drawing to a close are able to put into perspective the important things in life. The top five regrets of the dying are as follows:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. We start off in life full of hopes, dreams and ambitions but as we grow older we often compromise on these things. Family pressure, peer pressure, societal pressure and the circumstances we find ourselves in, often force us to settle for another type of life. Many people at the end of their days regret that they had not remained true to themselves.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard. Interestingly, this regret was most prevalent in men. They regretted not having spent enough time enjoying their children and the company of their companion in life. For many men work becomes an end in itself rather than a means to an end. Work is important for our flourishing as human beings but work needs to be kept in context and we ought not allow it take over our whole lives.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. As we know we often suppress our true feelings because we are afraid or because we want to keep the peace at home, at work, in our community. But the constant suppression of our real feelings over a significant period of time can be a trigger for future illness. However when we do express our true feelings there can be short-term unpleasantness but in the long term it can make our relationships healthier and improve our quality of life. Expressing our feelings in an appropriate way is also a release valve and it ensures that we are not at risk of becoming angry and bitter people.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. As we grow older we lose touch with a variety of people that were once very significant in our lives. We get caught up in work, in relationships, in rearing a family and we no longer have the time and we may feel that we no longer have the need or the energy to continue to invest in our friendships. Long term this can have a very negative impact on our lives and we lose out on the support, perspective, the fun and the pleasure that having friends brings to our lives.
5. I wish I'd let myself be happier. As people draw towards the end of their days they often realise that happiness is a choice we make and not a feeling. Though life can be hard and cruel at times, we can still choose to rise above its adversity and be happy people. We become happy by giving ourselves permission to have fun, to sometimes be silly. By choosing to be positive and encouraging and not allowing ourselves to dwell excessively on our inevitable sorrows we raise our happiness quotient.
Lent is an opportunity to make an inventory of our lives. It is a chance to change and to be transformed into the best version of ourselves possible. That is all that God expects of us. The people who inspired the author to compose that list of the top five regrets of the dying have know gone to God. They can't change their lives. We have the benefit of learning from their mistakes and ensuring that their regrets will not one day be ours.
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|Date:||Friday, May 24, 2013 at 8:40:16 AM|