No regrets

My home country suffered a tragedy a week ago. A fire in a nightclub killed over 230 young people and injured over 100. The reasons for the fire were lack of common sense and the infamous Brazilian way of doing things (by that I mean expired fire assessment certificates, no fire extinguishers in the premises, etc). Total chaos and very ‘Brazil’, I have to admit. Very, very sad.

This post, however, is not about the reasons why this has happened, although this would certainly deserve a post of its own. This post is about the young people that died. They all died almost instantly by the inhalation of carbon monoxide. Doctors said that they didn’t feel any pain, they just sort of fell asleep.

I can’t help but imagine them waking up, though. Waking up in the spiritual sense, I mean, after they had gone to ‘the other side’, after they were already dead. Some people claim that, after you die, your spirit comes out of your body and you can watch what is happening around you. You can see your body there, motionless, lifeless.

This image in my head made me think of what those young spirits would be thinking, how hard it must have been for them to understand what had happened and what they were doing there, lying on the floor of a nightclub full of black smoke, full of other dead people, full of their friends. I wonder if in this situation you think you can go back to your body and make yourself wake up from this bad dream. I wonder if they thought of the things that they still wanted to do in life. And I wonder if there was anything that they felt they should have done before dying. Anything that they regretted.

This week, I had the oportunity of watching a video about a nurse that recorded the top 5 regrets of dying people.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog and, subsequently, she compiled her observations into a book called ‘The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’.

The nurse writes about the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

At the end of their lives, many people realise that they had not honoured half of their own dreams, either because of choices that they made or because of choices that they didn’t make.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

Time with family and friends was sacrified because of work and many of the dying mentioned working too much as one of their main regrets.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

With many of the dying having developed illnesses related to supressing their feelings, it’s no wonder that not making people aware of what’s inside can result in ill health and an unfulfilled life.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Who can’t think of good friends that we lost touch with? Those friendships from our school years that, if cultivated, could have become large parts of our lives? It’s so important to keep in touch with friends and yet so many people leave it ’till later’, when it can be too late.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

Those deaths in Brazil, if anything, have made me think about how fragile life is and how responsible we are for our own happiness. If anything good can come out of it, be it our evaluation of what we are doing with our own lives. We still have time to change things, we still have time to take charge of our own future. We still have time to have no regrets.

Categories: Death, Time | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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