Ever since starting the Assisting Hands of Menomonee Falls, I have had the privilege of talking to many palliative care nurses and caregivers. All of them shared common observation about their patients, who were with them from as little as three weeks to a max of twelve weeks.
All of the nurses told me that people grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. Each of their patients experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance of what lies ahead.
When asked about any grief they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me: This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
- I wish I didn’t work so hard: The second most common regret came from every male patient that they had taken care of. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men they helped deeply regretted spending so much of their lives working countless number of hours away from loved ones.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends: All of the patients they served, regretted not keeping up with friends. Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier: This was surprisingly a common one for majority of patients as well. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. 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.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
“Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness”.
At Assisting Hands® Home Care, our skilled caregivers provide companionship for our clients including but not limited to palliative care, near end of life. Whether you need someone to be with you or your loved one during the day, in the evening or overnight, our at-home care can accommodate your needs. You will have peace of mind knowing that they aren’t home alone when they need help with medication, fall prevention, personal care, eating or other needs.
Contact us today to schedule your free in-home care assessment at 262-721-1155. To learn more about our in home care, click here.