The Meaning of Regret

The Meaning of Regret
Regret is distress of mind, sorrow for what has been done or failed to be done.₁

We all have experiences in our lives that have caused us to feel regret. Some regrets are of our own making, others are caused by circumstances we can’t always control. For instance, saying something controversial and regretting it later because it offended someone. Or maybe we have regrets for not continuing our education and wish we had gone on for the next degree. Perhaps we regret not changing jobs or taking a risk to earn more money. And maybe our regret is not living life to its fullest and feeling like we’ve lost out.

Regardless of what the circumstances may be, we all know the wretched feeling that regret can leave in our beings. We know the remorse or the sadness or the loss or the pain. We understand how life can be trying and filled with challenges and that we may regret our mistakes or circumstances.

With life, comes regret but because you still have life, you can change your actions and correct those mistakes. You can apologize to the person whom you offended with your words. We can go back to school and take additional courses. We can try a new daring experience and feel fulfillment. We can try to get another job or make a new financial decision. But when the situation is one of death, the regret lingers forever. There is no going back to try and do things differently. There is no opportunity to fix what might need fixing.

Since our daughter Aine died, the feeling of regret haunts us. We regret that we didn’t read her a story that time she asked. We regret that we shouted at bedtime that night or didn’t hug her when she went off to school that morning. We regret not taking five minutes to play with her when she begged us. We regret not holding her more. We regret not buying her an electronic device because we thought she was too young or it was too expensive. We regret each and every action we did or didn’t do with our precious child. We regret decisions we made or didn’t make. There is regret of her disease and not knowing she was ill, for not listening to an instinct that quietly nudged at me or for not being there when she needed me most.

These feelings are constant in our beings now. We cannot go back and change what has been done; we will struggle and learn how to deal with the hole that exists inside us. We will learn how to manage the pain and constant ache in our souls and hope not to repeat similar actions with our living daughter as we crawl forward in our grieving lives.

₁(Regret. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved September 20, 2011, from website:

A website has been established in our daughter's name. Please click here for more information about our mission. - Aine Marie Phillips

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