Infertility: This is it. This is all we get.

This morning on the way into work I heard the news that Giuliana Rancic is now going to undergo a double mastectomy after lumpectomies failed to eliminate her breast cancer. For those who may not be familiar with Guiliana, she is a 36 year-old popular TV figure in the United States who has been very open about her challenges with infertility. What stuck out most to me was the quote from her husband “I just want her to be here for the next 50 years.”

No coincidence, an excerpt from a letter written by a woman who was dying also found its way to me this morning–the excerpt follows.

“Regrets? I have a few. Too much worrying. I worried about finding the right husband and having children, being on time, being late and so on. It didn’t matter. It all works out and it would have worked out without the worries and the tears.

If I would have only known then what I know now. But, I did and so do you. We’re all going to die. Stop worrying and start loving and living.”

You see this is it. This is all we get. This moment, this day, this present time that we so often attempt to leap forward and out of is the grand finale. We are living our best day.

So perhaps today is the perfect day to open our arms and embrace the beautiful simple, yet profound gift of just one more day. Infertility is a bump, albiet a painful one, on the road of life. Yet in the end, not unlike Bill Rancic, those who love us just want us to be here for the next 50 years–baby or no baby.

Perhaps then when faced with the reality of our own mortality, maybe the best gift we can give ourselves is a regret-free departure.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

REGRETS OF THE DYING

Bronnie Ware

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. 

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. 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 realise 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 honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. 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 I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

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

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

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

Often they would not truly realise 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.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

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

This is a surprisingly common one. 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.

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2 comments

  1. Very profound. And thanks about the news about Guilana, I didn’t know. My heart goes out to her.

  2. You’re welcome Heather. It is heartbreaking and I truly hope that this step is a last one in her healing and that tides turn for the easier for her.

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