2019 will soon be upon us. For many of us, that means planning resolutions. They might include losing 10 pounds, finally changing jobs or saving for that family vacation. While all these resolutions are worthy, this is also a great time to reflect on the things that are most important. What does a person reflect on when the end of life is near?

As hospice nurses, we spend a lot of time with dying individuals. While our job is to provide them comfort in these final days, weeks or months, it’s also to help protect and even revitalize their emotional and spiritual health. Sometimes, doing this means listen to our hospice patients talk about the things they regret most. It’s rarely not having had enough money to buy that fancy car or seeing a number on the scale that was higher than they would have liked. In most cases, it’s about family, friends and connections. These are their wishes. They can teach us a lot.

More Valuable Time with Family

Hospice patients often express that they wish they had spent more time with family. Whether that would have meant leaving work early on Fridays or not taking that big promotion, their regret is that they didn’t put family first often enough. Sometimes, the wishes are about quality family time too. Perhaps they always had dinner with the kids on Saturday evening, but if the table time was spent with everyone rushing through the meal or picking up their phone, the loss of conversation and meaningful time together is still a regret.

Sweating the Small Stuff

Have you ever had a rift with a friend or loved one and later looked back on it thinking “why did I argue to begin with?” Sweating the small stuff is a good way to burn bridges, destroy relationships and waste valuable time. We could all be a little more patient with ourselves and with each other. Also, don’t wait to heal emotional wounds. Say you’re sorry, and then move on to better days ahead.

Spend Time Doing What You Love

Waiting too long to follow your dreams might mean that you spend your final days wishing you’d followed those dreams sooner. Whether that means going back to school, taking up a fun hobby or simply making the time to push your grandchildren on the swings, spend your time doing what you love. Take that exotic trip, learn to play guitar or master a second language. We all only have a certain number of years left on Earth, and the longer you wait, the shorter your personal clock might be.

At Salus, our philosophy regarding hospice care is based on taking care of the whole person – body, mind and soul. Recognizing what’s important in life is an important part of this philosophy and benefits our patients and the family members they love. As you’re making your New Year’s resolutions, keep these things in mind. Look through the lens of a hospice patient, and remember to consider what matters most.

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