Palliative Care is medical care given to patients whose diseases no longer respond to curable treatments. The patient has a disease which is life-limiting and life-threatening. The aim of hospice-palliative care is to alleviate the sufferings of these patients and to enhance the quality of life in the remaining days of life. Hospice work involves providing for the relief from pain and other distressing symptoms, as well as the giving of professional advice and support to families of cancer patients to help them care better for these patients.


So while browsing on Facebook recently, a link caught my attention and led me to the site of Bronnie Ware. Ware is the author of an international bestseller “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”. She is also a speaker, personal growth facilitator and a songwriter. Currently, Ware lives in Australia and advocates for simple living. You can also check out more of her literature via her blog.

Ware was also involved in the palliative care movement for years and has spent some important moments with her patients. Her patients consisted of those whom went home to spend their final days. She has made it a point to ask them some questions towards their view of life. She also noted this, “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.


Ware noticed that there are similar themes being talked about over and over again on the patient’s perception or regrets towards life. The list below shows the five most common ones:


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

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Ware noted that this regret was the most common one of all. She reasoned that because when the end of life is within sight, one’s realisation towards reality becomes clearer. One also tends to realise how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Many are regretful for not being able to fulfil even half of their dreams due to the choices they have made.


So I say live life to the fullest every day! Make the best out of your life because you will never know what happens tomorrow.


  1. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”

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According to Ware, this remark came from every male patient she nursed. It was mainly voiced by them because they regretted spending so much time on work and neglected the true beautiful things in life. These patients miss their children’s youth and the companionship of their partners. She also stated that women do regret of this too, but not as much as men because they were mostly not breadwinners.


Hence, it is very important for have balance in life. There should be a place and time for work as well as other things in life outside of work. I think it is due to the pressure of living up to the society which made us heavily invested in trying to rake in as much dough as we can, prioritizing the need to earn money before everything else. Yes, in reality money talks. But there are more things in life beyond money.


  1. “I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.”


I think this occurs to many people. We often suppress our feelings or dismiss it for the sake of keeping peace with others. At the end of the day, we compromised. We end up restricting our freedom. According to Ware, many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and the resentment they carried as a result. We cannot control how others react, but there might be a point where we should be honest because ultimately it would raise the relationship to a whole new level. If the other party insist to disagree with you, then you should know whom to cut contacts with.


  1. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

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Kpop girl group 2NE1 rejoicing for their long friendship together

Ware noted that patients nearing the end of their life did not realise the full benefits of old friends initially, right to the point where it is impossible to track them down already anyway. Just like the occupancy of work, many patients got so caught with their own lives that they neglected friendship over the years. It was evident that everyone misses their friends when death is near.


Ware also said that it is pretty common for anyone with a busy lifestyle to let friendship slip. However, when a person is nearing death, the physical parts of life usually fall away. These patients want to get things in order for the benefit of those they love but they are usually too weak or ill to perform such tasks. At the end of the day, love and relationship matters especially towards the final weeks of their lives

  1. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”


I guess this is the utmost important one. Ware noted that many patients did not realize that happiness is actually a choice. We can actually all choose to be happy but due to the fear of change, we tend to become someone we actually aren’t. These patients longed to laugh properly and be silly again.


A little note to everyone reading this, always live the life you yearned for today. Life is short so make the best out of it. Try to give yourself 10 minutes of reflection. Ask yourself; what do you want in your life? Put them down on a bucket list and come up with ways to fulfill them. It can be a vacation hotspot, a deed you have always wanted to do or challenging new things. Do it now! It’s now or never.

Be a hero for someone today


Play that tiny role of yours in spreading the awareness of Palliative Care. Additionally, GetDoc and Hospice Klang have set up a Pledge Funding event and a Crowd Funding event in order to raise funds to ease the monetary burden faced by the Hospice body.

Support the pledge:


Additionally, the Malaysian Hospice Council will also be organizing the Malaysian Hospice Council Congress 2016 from 22nd – 24th April 2016. The Congress offers you a chance to hear and interact with leading researchers and practitioners among the palliative care community. Attendees also will be able to update their knowledge, share experiences and ask questions. To find out more on the event; you may click here and drop an e-mail.

Nicky Lee

by Nicky Lee

Your typical neighbourhood ah pek who roams on the internet to satisfy his curiosity. Bold. Loud. Talkative. View all articles by Nicky Lee.


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