Learning from top 5 regrets of the dying

Recently I’ve read about a nurse from Australia (Bronnie Ware) who spent many years caring for patients in the last weeks of their lives. From those conversations, she extracted a list of 5 regrets of the dying.

For me it’s both fascinating and inspiring. I think we can learn a lot from it. Why not take care of those things earlier in life so we won’t have these regrets on our death bed.

This is one of the most powerful lists that I’ve ever read. For me, it has the power to transform lives.

The below list was copied from The Guardian newspaper: Top five regrets of the dying

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by 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 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. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

  1. I wish I hadn’t worked 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.”

  1. 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.”

  1. 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.”

  1. 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 silliness in their life again.”

I can say that I’m on the right track with regrets one and two. I’m working pretty hard on number 3 and 5, but really falling behind on number 4. I wish I had better connections and made more of an effort with people I care about, i.e. my friends and my family. Thankfully I have time to change it.

For the summer, we left our motorcycle in Georgia and came to the UK and Poland to meet our families and friends. We had an amazing time with our nieces, stayed with my parents, met with some good friends and renewed old friendships. It’s hard to stay in touch while travelling but we are trying. Luckily there’s Skype so at least we can speak and see each other once in a while.

And what about you? What regrets would you have if you were dying today?

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