The Purpose of Regret

Dear Cousin,

I have very few regrets in life, but there is one that I hold dear to my heart.
When our Aunt Shari died I realized that I’d never thanked her for what she meant to me. She showed up for me in many ways over the years and I, not knowing enough to express gratitude, did nothing. After she passed I promised myself that I would never let it happen again.
That’s why I’m writing to you now. I want you to know how thankful I am for you and how much I appreciate having you in my life. When I was in my teens and being pressured to conform, pushed to take jobs that I didn’t want, dress a certain way and spend time with people that I didn’t care for, I thought of you. When my creativity was being squelched and my spark being diminished I thought of you. When I felt imprisoned in a box of other people’s expectations, I thought of you. To me you were and are a bright light, a shining star showing the way to being true to yourself amid difficult challenges. To me what you believe isn’t the point; it’s about living fully with your heart by your beliefs.
When you moved 1500 miles away and made a new life for yourself, you made me feel brave. Then you moved back and made another new life for yourself and again I marveled at your bravery. Now life has thrown you another curve ball. You’re living in an area surrounded by people who are polar opposite to you in their politics, religion and general outlook on life. And you are still living by your values and beliefs. Jon Stewart said; If you don’t live by your values they’re not values, they’re hobbies. You, my dear cousin, are the real deal. Thank you for giving me something to remember when I’m being challenged.
On another note, thank you for the intellectual challenge. When we used to play Words with Friends, I would spot myself 100 points. I decided that if you beat me by less than 100, I won. It never happened.
I am just one person. I hope that when you read this you’ll realize that although we haven’t spent a lot of time together, you’ve had a huge positive affect on my life. And, I’m sure that I’m not the only one. When you shine the way that you do, with so much humility and grace your glow will affect everyone in your path. Whether they know it or not.
Dear Reader, The purpose of regret is to teach us how to live without it. When my aunt died I was filled with regret. Now I thank her for an important life lesson. I will never again hesitate to say Thank you.


  1. A lovely letter to your cousin, Victoria. It is never too late to say thank you. I found myself hesitating to tell someone how much I love her. I worried that I might sound silly because I haven’t seen her all that much at all over the years. I told her anyways because I might not have another chance and she meant alot to me. She has a terminal brain tumor. She had walked me to school every day and took me to Sunday school when I first came to Canada.

    • Lily, I’m so happy for you that you were able to tell her how much you love her. I’m sure that it meant a lot to her.

  2. What a perfect gift to your cousin and your readers, Victoria. I understand your feeling of regret about not thanking your aunt, but I’m guessing wherever she is, she knows how much you loved her. Thank you for a very important reminder! Laura

  3. While it’s too late to thank your aunt (you may have showed your appreciation in other ways?) it’s never to late to let people like your cousin know how much they mean to you. Well done!

  4. Regret presupposes that you can’t tell those who have passed on how much they meant/mean to you. That energy never dies.

    • Hi Kathleen, You’re right energy never dies, but it can be transformed. Whenever we take our life experience, learn from it and use the knowledge to make more positive choices, we are transforming the energy.

  5. Hi. Probably the second time in the past two weeks I have read that the purpose of regret is to teach us how not to have it. I guess someone is trying to send me a message. Maybe I should take it to heart since it keeps showing up. Have a great day.

    • Hi Jen, Your comment really made me smile. My last post ‘Emotions and Life Lessons’, said exactly what you’re saying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *