Dr Pamela Prince Pyle

Living with Regret

Certain patient stories remain at the forefront of my memory. Sometimes it is a unique medical condition. At other times it is the patient and families which make a lasting impression. However, the most deeply embedded memories are the life stories that taught me pearls of wisdom.

This story is one of the latter.

I had just started my professional career as one of three physicians selected to begin a hospital based internal medicine program. It was the first of its kind outside of a university setting. Our hospital was in a resort community where many admitted patients did not have a local physician. Other patients without a local doctor had recently retired from the north for the beach, golf, sunshine, and the retirement they had dreamed.

I received a call from the emergency department (ED) to admit a man in his early sixties who had collapsed on the golf course. Bystanders attempted CPR and an ambulance was there in minutes. I saw him in the ED and initial evaluation revealed a myocardial infarction (heart attack) with abnormal heart rhythm. He was unstable despite every measure taken and within two hours coded and we could not resuscitate him.

I must focus on the patient when he or she is this unstable. Therefore, my time with his wife had been brief up until the moment. I stepped into the patient waiting room and in that moment she knew. She dropped her head in her hands and sobbed uncontrollably.

She had to have heard, “Code Blue to ICU, Code Blue to ICU”.

The sorrow I felt in the outcome must have been visible in my face. Sharing terrible news with family members is the most difficult aspect of my work. It hurts my heart to see the pain of human tragedy and I cannot mask my empathy in that moment.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is listen.

She tearfully shared that they had just moved to our area to enjoy their retirement. They had been unable to have children and therefore made the decision to work as hard as they could for the retirement of which they dreamed. Rather than vacations they picked up extra shifts and every extra penny was saved for that future someday. 

That someday had begun one month before and up until this day had been what they dreamed.

This day she was now a widow and regret was heavy in the air.

Living with Regret: A Little or A Lot

If you are reading this, my guess is that you have experienced the emotion of living with regret in your life. I know that I have regrets. Some regrets of mine would be considered little. I regret that I hadn’t reached out more to a friend in need, or cared more for my knees in my 30’s and 40’s, or been a better cook when my children were young.

Other regrets of mine, I feel their weight…a lot. I regret working so hard when my children were little. I regret not pausing to appreciate God’s creation earlier in life. I regret that it took me so darn long to understand what it means to have my identity in Christ and teach my children the peace of resting in Him.

Yes, I am living with regret and maybe you are too. But unlike my new widow, we have time (or at least we think we do) to make some changes. So, let’s learn from the wisdom of others that we may not have those same regrets at the end of our life. We must put down the past and consider today a new day. How do we begin to live the life we want by Living with the End in Mind?

3 Responses

  1. A year past my husband‘s passing I still find myself evaluating my life, and those moments of regrets seem to really be illuminating lately in my dreams. I have received the grace and mercy of Christ, and know that he has forgiven me for those things that I regret there still seems to remain a process in my mind of letting those memories go.
    Our God never sleeps nor slumbers, and he watches out over me as I sleep so though I wake with a heaviness that my dreams have produced I know his mercies are new every day and I can pick up and as your latest blog has said I have today and God I give you my day to be used for your glory show me where you would want me to serve. You use to bring your babies on early morning rounds with you. You did a lot of things right.

    1. Hi Pamela,
      First my heartfelt condolences for the loss of your husband. Grief and love are like two sides of a coin. We grieve because we love and therefore it is something you will carry and not meant to “get over” but will become lighter with time. The most important part of your process is you know you are forgiven and yet are unable to forgive yourself for your regrets. We know we are supposed to forgive others as we are forgiven, but did you know that you are also to forgive yourself as you are forgiven. You cannot change what you regret but you can change how you move forward. The tragedy would be to live with those same regrets at the end of your life. I find that when I am bound up by something like this that I write it down and then pray, pray, pray for God to release me from it. Sometimes if it something that I can’t do anything about then I write a letter to myself or in this case to your husband. I would also pray for spiritual protection over your thoughts and your dreams and particularly before you go to bed. Jesus Christ does not want you to live with regret and neither would your husband but Satan would like to keep you stranded because then you can’t discern where God may already be leading you to serve. I have also found that in my darkest moments, finding my God given purposes lifts me up. I will be praying for you in all that God has for you. God with you, Dr. Pamela

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The End In Mind

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