People with life limiting illnesses have an incredible ability to teach us how to live. When people are faced with their own mortality, it just makes sense that their priority’s change. There’s no more “someday” for their goals and dreams they want to fulfill, “someday” becomes “today”. Not only does the time line change but so does the list of goals and dreams. All of a sudden, some of those things that were so important, just don’t matter anymore.
So, what is it that REALLY matters to people at the end of life? What lessons are available to those of us who want to live without regrets? I would like to share 5 life lessons I have learned throughout the 25 plus years of working with end of life patients:
This week’s blog looks at: Life lesson #1: Adjust your priorities now
I’ve never had a dying patient tell me that they wished they had worked more hours for company X, or that they wish they had more money in their bank account. Not once has a patient said, “If only I could have afforded a house in Florida”. What I have heard patients say is that they wished they had taken more time with their family, told them how they felt, didn’t hold a grudge or asked for forgiveness. I’ve also heard patients say they wish they hadn’t been so scared to live how they really wanted to.
Hearing the same things over and over again, from men and women of all different ages, race, and socioeconomic statuses made me personally evaluate my priorities. My number one priority is always my family, isn’t it for most people? When I delved deeper in my priorities I realized however, that my actions didn’t always mirror my beliefs. That was when I realized that my beliefs and values were not always the same as my priorities. I worked long hours, would take work calls while watching a movie with my kids, or allow the kids to eat by the tv so I could finish up one more project all in the name of trying to “better my family’s lives”. The reality was that my actions made a bold statement, work was more important than my family. As a single parent I was driven by the fear there was no one but myself to support my children. What I realized was that if I died tomorrow, I would have regretted the time I missed with my children. In other words, the people that mattered the most to me, weren’t getting the best of me.
I hope you take a moment to really look at your priorities. Do they match with what you value the most? If not, take the time to make some adjustments. Don’t wait until it’s too late to make what matters to you, really matter.
It will make all the difference….I PROMISE!