Living and Dying Without Regrets
By living alongside death we can learn to truly live
Posted October 3, 2022 | Reviewed by Hara Estroff Marano
- Living well is the way to die without regrets.
- By being aware of limited time, we will not waste time.
- Illness is our great teacher of how to live well.
- By moving toward death we learn how to truly live.
Living by death's side
I have truly learned to live
There are no regrets.
I put the the words Anabel Mariko left behind into a haiku. She died at 41 years-old after a life of illnesses, hospitalizations, surgeries, transplants, recoveries, challenges, accomplishments, and ultimately cancer.
She said that she learned to live fully and have a good life by living alongside death. This is how she became aware that her life was time-limited, and it motivated her to not waste any time. By defying statistics and moving toward death, she overcame her fears and embraced life courageously.
Anabel believed that every human being wants and strives to feel love and connection—to be loved and to love. She felt this love with humans—her husband, family, and friends—and also with her dog. Anabel also "felt the love of God" in receiving the gift of life itself, and all the joys she had experienced. She acknowledged that she had "felt the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in human emotions," and that she accepted it all as her life. In the end, she was able to feel that she was part of something great, made an impact, inspired others and left the world with a sense of peace and satisfaction.
Anabel lamented, "Too bad it has taken illness to realize this." Yes, illness is our great teacher. I am inspired by Anabel to learn to live alongside death and get going each day by reminding myself that my time is precious and limited. I hear her voice telling me, "Don't waste time! Don't wait! Live now!" or in her actual words: "Get shit done!" I strive to have the courage to live true to myself, not to anyone else. I tell myself to express my true feelings; to connect with real friends; to work hard, but rest, play, feel joy; to live and die without regrets.
Those who sit by the bedsides of the dying say that regrets are common. Bronnie Ware, author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, says that the number one regret is, "I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself.” She learned that no matter how hard it would be to stay true to her own path—no matter how much courage it would take to do that—nothing could be as painful as lying on your deathbed with that regret.
Now is the time for all of us to live in ways that will bring us to our deathbed in peace and satisfaction without regrets. We all live with fears preventing us from truly living wholeheartedly and courageously. Every day we need to find courage to overcome our fears, to live well, for ourselves and others. We can find this courage by reflecting on our ancestors, like Anabel, learning from them and being inspired by them. So I walk alongside death every day, feeling gratitude for my life and the opportunity to live, with all the sorrow and joy that are part of this mysterious and wonderful existence.