A Tale From A Deathbed

jon dawson

Photo Credit: Jon Dawson via CC Flickr

Every once in a while, I come across a story that touches my heart, brings a smile to my face and a giggle to my soul. Such is the case with today’s story. 

Doug Smithberger is on his deathbed at Allegheny General Hospital and knows the end is near.

 

His nurse, his wife, his daughter and 2 sons are with him.

 

He asks for 2 witnesses to be present and a camcorder be in place to record his last wishes, and when all is ready he begins to speak:

 

My son, “Bernie, I want you to take all the West End houses.””

My daughter “Sybil, you take the apartments over in the Bottoms and up toward Neville Island.””

 

My son, “Jamie, I want you to take the offices and apartments over in Neville Island and Coraopilis.”

 

“Sarah, my dear wife, please take all the residential buildings on the banks of the river between McKees Rocks and Coraopolis and up the valley toward the airport.”

 

The nurse and witnesses are blown away as they did not realize his extensive holdings, and as Doug slips away, the nurse says,

“Mrs. Smith, your husband must have been such a hard-working man to have accumulated all this property”.

 

Sarah replies, “Property ? …. the jerk had a paper route!”

HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! I hope this brought a smile to your face and made your day a little brighter! Love life and smile often.

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Regrets of the Dying

Photo Credit: John Trumbull via Qikimedia

Photo Credit: John Trumbull via Qikimedia

I have bad news for you…someday you are going to pass away. We all are. It is just a part of life. The million dollar question is…how well are we living the life that we have been given? Are we doing everything that we can do to help others? Make a difference in this world? Are we satisfied with the way that we are living our lives? Is our soul at ease and at peace? Have you achieved all of your life’s goals and have done everything that you wanted to do?

Well, if you have answered “no” to a few of the questions that I previously mentioned, then I have GREAT NEWS…you still have time to do the things that you may want to do (or at least some of them). No one wants to pass from this earth or lay on their death bed, regretting the things that they could have done in their life or the ways that they could have treated others (or themselves) when they were still able to do so.

I read an article a week or so ago on Tip News (DNA, March 12, 2014) that talked about the regrets of the dying. It made me really think how fast my life is going and how life passed these people by, so fast, that they never had a chance to do the things that they always wanted to do and suffered great regret because of it. It is my hope and prayer that after you read the following article, it will inspire you to live your life in such a way, that in the end, you will have no regrets. What will you decide to do?

“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 realize 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 honored 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 honor 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 realize, 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 realize 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 realize 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.”