The longer I work in hospice, the more I'm reminded about two critical pieces of wisdom: 1) Hospice is about living, and 2) we should all do our best to live a life of least regrets.

While this article is geared towards family members with a terminally ill loved one, as well as my fellow workers in the fields of palliative and , I believe the thoughts that I will share apply to everyone alive near and far.

A short while back, I was performing a hospice visit for one of my patients when they shared the latest news with me that they ran into someone they went to high school with at the same assisted living care facility where they were living. She pulled out her high school yearbook and allowed me to review it. Page after page, obituaries were clipped over the photos. Page after page, with only a handful of her classmates still alive. A reminder that even if one lives to their eighties and nineties, we may be among the few.

This is just yet another reminder that as we live life, we should prioritize several areas:

  • Always be kind because we don't know what storms the people around us are going through in life.
  • Live as if there will not be tomorrow in an honorable way without regrets.

Regrets?

The constant theme I hear from patients who are cognitively able to express themselves and from all the loved ones follows the “I wish…

  • I wish I had spent more time with _______ (often loved ones or the loved ones referring to the patient).
  • I wish I could visit _________. I always wanted to go there, but now I will never get the chance.
  • The constant flow of “I wish…..” …” but now, I can't” due to a terminal illness or being the primary caregiver resounded time and time and time again.

Choosing to Live a Life of No Regrets

May I suggest that over the next seventy-two hours, you consider the following:

  • Are you working towards a closer personal relationship with God to remove doubts about where you will spend eternity? I use the word “working” loosely.
  • Are you spending time regularly and frequently with the ones you love so that when their time comes, you may not be pondering… “If I only spent more time?”
  • Are you trying to live an authentic life, being as real about yourself to yourself and others around you as possible in a way that demonstrates a gentle, kind, and thoughtful nature? How do you want to be remembered? Do you want that as a regret as well?
  • As adults, we do have to work, and some of us may never retire, but in your free time, what are you doing that will add value and reduce regrets at the end of your life?

Here are five free resources that can help you embrace life and reduce regrets based on the lessons we learn from :

Practice Daily Acts of Kindness

Being kind to others, even in small gestures, can profoundly impact their lives. Take a moment each day to practice acts of kindness, whether offering a compliment, helping someone in need, or just listening with empathy. Kindness uplifts others and brings a sense of fulfillment and joy to your own life.

Prioritize Quality Time with Loved Ones

Life can be hectic, but cherishing the moments with loved ones should be a priority. Make time to connect with family and friends regularly, sharing experiences and creating lasting memories. Remember, time spent together is the most valuable gift you can give one another.

Embrace Authenticity and Mindful Living

Live authentically, being true to yourself and others. Embrace mindfulness to stay present and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Cultivate a gentle, kind, and thoughtful nature in your interactions, positively impacting the people you encounter.

Reflect on Life’s Priorities

Take time to reflect on your values and what truly matters to you. Prioritize those things that bring meaning and fulfillment to your life and align your actions with your values. Doing so allows you to live a life that resonates with your deepest aspirations.

Carve Out Time for Meaningful Pursuits

Identify your passions and interests and dedicate time to pursue them. Engaging in activities that align with your passions can bring immense joy and satisfaction, reducing the likelihood of regrets in the future.

Life is precious, and each day presents an opportunity to shape a regret-free existence. By implementing these resources and embracing the lessons from hospice care, you can lead a life filled with purpose, love, and fulfillment.

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