Avoiding the Biggest Regrets with the Dying Process

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Coping with the death of a family member

Allow Yourself to Grieve

One of the most important things you can do when faced with the death of a loved one is to allow yourself to grieve. You may experience shock, anger, sadness, and can even feel lost or helpless. This is normal, but it is necessary to express these feelings because keeping them in will only lessen your ability to cope.

Talk to your family and friends about what you are feeling. It is likely that they are feeling the same emotions as you and talking about it will help you cope and find closure. Talking about your loved one after their death is also a great way to honor their memory and help you appreciate the moments you had with them. There are other ways to honor them as well, including donating to their favorite charities, planting a tree in their memory, or spending time with family to share stories and reminisce with photos of fun times. These kinds of activities, while they may seem difficult, will help you find closure and acceptance.

When you experience the death of a family member, you will be filled with many emotions and may also be required to do things like make funeral arrangements or work with their estate planners to carry out their final will. During this time, it is imperative that you take care of yourself and not neglect your needs – eat well, get plenty of rest, and try to continue doing the things that bring you joy. Whether this is exercise or spending time with friends, this will help you cope and keep a level head while dealing with other responsibilities.

MEDIA INQUIRIES

Hospice workers have a unique perspective on death and dying, since they spend their days caring for and listening to people who are approaching the end of life. They often get to hear from people, in a frank and honest way, what they regret in their lives. What is surprising is that these regrets are usually not unique. Very often, they are echoed and shared by others and center around common themes. 

Here are the four biggest regrets people have when they reach the end of life and some thoughts on how you can take this precious wisdom and use it to transform your life and your choices now.

They wish they had allowed more joy into their lives

A common realization that people have on their deathbed is that they could have simply chosen to be happier in their lives. Instead of pursuing what they truly wanted out of life, they allowed themselves to fall into routine and to be limited by the fear of change. 

As the old saying goes, the days are long but the years are short. It’s all too easy to put off thinking about your real, heartfelt desires to another day. Don’t make this mistake. Tomorrow is not promised, and neither is your health. There may come a day when you aren’t physically or mentally able to pursue your dreams, so make the most of what you have right now.

They wish they hadn’t devoted so much time to work

Almost no one looks back fondly on the hours they gave to the office. Instead, they regret missing out on the time they could have spent with their partners, children, and friends. 

Consider prioritizing what matters most in your life and let your work stay within the hours of nine to five. While it’s important to earn money, it’s just as important to have a life that’s rich in all ways—emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

They wish they had sustained their friendships

Friendships drift apart over the years, and this is one of the things that people express deep regret about on their deathbeds. They wish they had stayed in touch and nurtured those connections. 

Make time for your friends, even if they are far away. Keep in touch through phone calls, emails, and social media. These small investments of time, comfort, and care add up to meaningful relationships over the course of a lifetime.

They wish they had been open with their feelings

Many people hold themselves back from saying what’s really on their minds. They’re afraid of disturbing the peace or embarrassing themselves. In retrospect, people see their choices to hold their tongue as missed opportunities—ones that could have changed their lives for the better. 

Don’t be shy about speaking up. You may be surprised at how it strengthens bonds and clears the air. At the very least, you can rest easy knowing you have been true to yourself.

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