I Wish I Had (Top five regrets of the dying)

I Wish I Had (Top five regrets of the dying)


I Wish I Had (Top five regrets of the dying)

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Job

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware

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

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 realise 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 realise 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 sillyness 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.

Connect with Bronnie Ware
Photo by ElRincon

From this article on regrets of the dying, Bronnie Ware has released a full length book titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing (eBook format). The book is a memoir of her own life and how it was transformed through the regrets of the dying people she cared for.

Get the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing

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14 thoughts on “I Wish I Had (Top five regrets of the dying)

  1. Hilary

    Hi BK .. poignant moments in those last days .. and something we should all learn from .. Be ourselves, and true to ourselves … we can smile with others, bring joy to others and give to others .. and give ourselves happiness too ..

    Great post – thank you – Hilary

  2. bingkaycoy

    The good thing about regrets is that we are given the chance to change and transform. Sometimes, those regrets we have are lessons and we end up not regretting at all for if they did not happen , we wouldn’t be as strong and wise as we are now.

  3. lina

    Thanks for this post. It serves as a reminder for us all not to take our life and the ones around us for granted. 🙂

  4. Claudia

    I appreciate this post. Maybe because it reminds me that I should appreciate my life more. Lately, I have been taking work home. I am afraid I am losing time when it comes to bonding with my siblings and parents. With this post, I will take it as a reminder to work hard, but “party” harder <3

  5. Ron

    This blog is really inspires me to make every moment of my life worth remembering. We live only once so we must make the most out of it. Stay with our family and friends if we have time. Tell the people around you how you feel about them. And be happy always so that there will be no regrets at the end.

    1. Symphony of Love Post author

      @ Ron, I couldn’t have said it better than you did, “We live only once so we must make the most out of it.” Most important of all is not to have any regret.

  6. Barbara

    Those top five regrets are so sad – I really believe a lot of people can relate to number one. This is beautifully stated Bonnie, thank you.