Deathbed Regrets

When I started this blog, I intended to focus on grief — hence the name, Grief Happens. Well, I ended up having more immediate needs, and the blog has become more of a place to vent and express the grievances and frustrations in my day-to-day life as opposed to actively grieving my dad’s suicide and more recently, my father-in-law’s sudden and untimely death.

That’s fine, and life happens, but occasionally I run across articles that make me think about grief. I wholeheartedly believe in living life to the fullest, and I believe we have to do so even when life is tough. Let’s face it — life can be hard.

How can we live joyfully, even in tough times?

Are you living without regret? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

7 thoughts on “Deathbed Regrets

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about life and regrets because I’ve become close with a new friend recently and she has said a few times that she admires my positivity. For as long as I remember, I never thought of myself as a positive person. I also had little confidence and a ton of self doubt. I don’t think I complained excessively or tread water in self-pity, but I wasn’t someone who tried to find the upside of terrible situations. Life is hard. Sometimes we feel stable and content, and then something happens that destroys that foundation. Time to go through the motions and rebuild.

    I know for me personally, I decided that although I have experienced traumatic loss, I have to make my life amazing. When I think about my brother, especially, he was on his way to great things before he died. I want to honor his spirit. I want to jump on new experiences, open myself up to new people, and always have a something to work towards, whether it’s in relation to my career, my judo and jiu jitsu training, or something else that makes me feel like I’m alive and moving. I can’t change what I said or did in the past. I just can’t. Thinking about what could have been leaves me stuck and I lose sight of what in front of my face.

    I know it sounds like oversimplification, but sometimes I think my competitive side is what keeps me going. I want to win at life, whatever the hell that means. I come from parents who are look like a giant mess on paper, but my parents were always scrappers. So when the things in my life start to feel wrong and out of control, with hopelessness creeping in, I say, “Fuck this. This is not the end of me.” That helps the fog dissolve and I remember that there are things I still want in life.

    That being said, I believe that we can’t dive into life without feeling our feelings. Our feelings are never wrong. We have a full right to them. So I also made a promise to myself that I will not trick myself out of feeling depressed, angry, scared, ashamed…whatever those devastating emotions might be. If I don’t feel them in their intensity, they will explode and drown me down the line. I’ve learned this lesson several times. Those are the moments I regret–when I wasn’t true to myself and tried to be some kind of tough girl for appearances, since it only made things six billion times harder and alienating for me. My job now is to learn how I can be comfortable going through those feelings and reaching out to the right people when I realize I need some support. That has been a job, too…collecting a handful of people to develop mutually loving and trusting relationships with. Also pretty hard, especially since the person who has most of the trust problems is me.

    Each person experiences life so differently and we simply do not respond to the same stimuli. What works for me probably won’t work for the person sitting next to me on the bus ride to work. If there are things you regret, I hope with time you can be OK with that. Regrets can tell us what we want to do differently in our present and future. I feel encouraged for you because you keep asking questions. You still want answers. I think that shows you are still here.


    • Wow — thanks for such a thoughtful response. It’s funny when I posted this, I wasn’t feeling any particular regret. I really believe in living joyfully in spite of all the hard things in this world. Sometimes that’s easier for me than other times.

      One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

      I’m truly at a place where I know that everything that has happened in my life has made me who I am. Whatever decision I made at the time, I did so from where I was at that point. Would I make that same decision today? In many cases, probably not, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I regret it.

      I like what you said about your competitive side keeping you going. I don’t think that’s oversimplification. I think that’s amazing. I think that’s something I really struggle with. I definitely have a competitive side, but if I allow myself to get too caught up in it (which I’ve done in the past), I self-destruct, and it’s often hard to tweak out when it’s healthy for me to be competitive. The biggest example of this for me, is my eating disorder. I get so focused on what I’m doing that I just don’t eat. It’s like everything other than my goal goes completely out the window — including eating until I’m so weak I pretty much end up giving up on my goal altogether.

      Ugh…this is material for another post.

      I think you summed up beautifully the way I feel about regret. I’ll add it to my favorite quote collection.

      “Regrets can tell us what we want to do differently in our present and future.”


  2. They say “if you’re going through hell, keep going” (Winston Churchill) but quite frankly, right now i am sick of going through hell and i feel like i have waited long enough and gone through it enough, and am very deserving of seeing the other side now, yet the shit just keeps coming my way. :-/ every time i think things are getting better, another thing just has to go wrong.


    • Sorry you’e having a hard time. I have felt like you’re feeling, and it just plain stinks. I kind of take a different approach from Winston Churchill. I get that you have to keep going — hiding under the covers is not an option, BUT bulldozing through has done nothing but harm me. We live in a world that values pressing forward, when we often need to be still and listen to our inner voices (God, Higher Power, Whatever). I’m gradually learning to do the very minimum when I’m depressed or anxious or overwhelmed. For me, that looks like — get through the day, keep the kids alive, don’t start a fight with Gil or Mom. It’s harder when you have parents or friends asking how the job hunt is going, or siblings or friends whose ideas of success are tangible achievements. Sending you love and peace — hope you feel better soon.


  3. Life can be hard, and for me it got very hard recently, landing me in the psych hospital. I am learning ways to cope with hard times. My FIL also recently died, sending my son in a tailspin of depression over the loss of his only grandfather. Sometimes life can be hateful and mean, but it is up to us to learn to let that slide off our backs.

    I wish you much peace and understanding on your journey through the darknesses of life.


    • So happy you’re doing better. I think the biggest realization for me with depression was that the way I’m feeling is temporary, though I think for you and me, much of ours is situational — harder to overlook, especially since much of it is out of our control. It took years (and lots of therapy) for me to wrap my brain around this, but once I got it, it was powerful. It’s tough to watch others grieve, especially when it’s different and self-destructive. My husband’s reactions to his dad’s death were hard, but time is helping. Thanks for the kind words, and I wish you peace.


      • knowing when things are out of our control is part of the battle. Once you accept the fact that you can’t control the situation and give up trying, it becomes easier.

        The blessings of peace on you.


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