Top 5 regrets before dying by Bronnie Ware

Top 5 regrets before dying by Bronnie Ware (Thanks for sending, Craig!)

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 learned 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 have 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. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.

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, and choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Keep smiling & have a wonderful life.

by The Wellness Clinic on Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 11:30pm @ Facebook

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4 thoughts on “Top 5 regrets before dying by Bronnie Ware

  1. LOVE this article! I am a film maker– my last film, WHO Does She Think She IS? was about living one’s dream as well as taking care of those one loves. It’s played on PBS stations around the country as well as in Theaters around the world.

    But, my new film, which I’m calling “THE GOOD LIFE: What is it Now?” will be looking at what truly makes us happy. Each of the points made in this blog about ‘regrets’ at the end of life, are so true and so exactly echo the research we have been doing on this topic.

    THE GOOD LIFE, will incorporate cutting edge science showing that, we humans are MEANT to Connect with each other–and not only through electronics! All kinds of studies show that people live longer, and with less disease, when they are part of a community–of actual, not virtual folks. This reaching out, to “belong,” as well as cooperative behaviour, actually has been demonstrated to be as vital in the “animal kingdom” (which, of course, we humans, like it or not, are a part of!) as in the human.

    I will be looking at three different stories of folks moving away from “more is better” toward a more holistic connection to themselves and their communities.

    Anyway, just doing the research for the film now. My producing partner, came across your book, Radio Shangri-la– and ordered it. It came today and it brought me to this site. Thanks, we can’t wait to read it.

    yours, Pamela Tanner Boll
    Co-Executive Producer: Connected by Tiffany Shlain
    Co-Executive Producer BORN INTo BROTHELS

  2. Elle says:

    Thank you for sharing this…it really gets one thinking about past and future decisions…Happiness is definitely a choice…surround yourself with as many positive and genuine people is such a key component to happiness….family, friends and in the workplace.

  3. laura anderson archdeacon says:

    as a child and young adult, life was hell….however i volunteered for a number of charities, and church…. later now in life, i still volunteered crazily….. i have taken two years off of “heavy” volunteering, and am now training for hospice… i help a 49 year old acquaintance take care of new twins… people say i’m crazy, but i am happiest,,,,, truly,,,, when my hands are helping and people (young and old) are smiling around me… i don’t believe one can truly do that electronically…. my touch, their touch, some days feels electric and yet soothing…. i am implementing on a greater scale the five points…. i am 57 years old….. no time like the present

  4. Ona says:

    Our eldest son died last July 7th at the age of 49 from a brain tumour. He lived his life well and did many things he liked to do. He traveled to many countries and made friends everywhere. Our son was at peace before he died and said he knew where he was going. He has made his presence known to us on 4 different occasions since he died. We have a loving connection.

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