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spike bullet February 2012 ~ Five Regrets of the Dying

Resources (links, books, articles, the lighter side)
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color bulletFive Regrets of the Dying

by Bronnie Ware

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 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.  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 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.  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 themselves, 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, choose honestly.  Choose happiness.

Copyright © Bronnie Ware, all rights reserved.  Used with permission of the author.

About the Author: Bronnie Ware is a writer and songwriter from Australia who worked with dying people in their homes for several years.  Bronnie has recently released a full-length book titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying - A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.  It is a memoir of her own life and how it was transformed by the regrets of the dying people she cared for. 

For more information, please visit Bronnie official website at  or her blog at  Direct link to the article on her blog: 

  Internet Resources

book graphic  Books   -  Disclosure: We get a small commission for purchases made via links to Amazon.

  • The Top Five Regrets of the Dying - A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.  Bronnie Ware.  Balboa Press, 2011.  ISBN-13: 978-1452502342
  • If Only: How to Turn Regret into Opportunity.  Neal Roese.  Broadway, 2005.  ISBN-10: 0767915771
  • Love Focused: Living Life to the Fullest.  Bob Hughes, Judy Hughes.  Crossroads Publishing, 2008.  ISBN-13: 978-098077209
  • Going for the Max!  12 Principles for Living Life to the Fullest.  Max Cleland.  Broadman & Holman, 2000.  ISBN-13: 978-0805420210
  • Notes from the Universe: New Perspectives from an Old  Friend.  Mike Dooley.  Atria Books/Beyond Words, 2007.  ISBN-10: 1582701768
  • The Hidden Messages in Water.  Masaru Emoto.  Beyond Words, 2004.  ISBN-13: 978-1582701141
  • Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits.   Wayne Dyer.  Hay House, 2011.  ISBN-13: 978-1401922948
  • The Power of Positive Thinking.  Norman Vincent Peale.  Fireside, 2003.  ISBN-13: 978-0743234801
  • Everyday Positive Thinking.  Louise Hay.  Hay House, 2004.  ISBN-13: 978-1401902957
  • Infinite Possibilities:  The Art of Living Your Dreams.  Mike Dooley.  Atria Books/Beyond Words, 2010.  ISBN-13: 978-1582702322
  • Notes from the Universe: New Perspectives from an Old  Friend.  Mike Dooley.  Atria Books/Beyond Words, 2007.  ISBN-10: 1582701768
  • Transforming Your Dragons: Turning Personality Fear Patterns into Personal Power. Jose Stevens. Bear & Co; (July 1994) ISBN: 1879181177
  • Income Without a Job: Living Well Without a Paycheck.  Michael Jay Anthony, Barbara J. Taylor., 2008  ISBN-13: 978-0-557-00377-8.  Website:  Tap into your own creativity and use  your full potential.  Learn how to see opportunities that others miss.   

world wide web - articles  Articles

Related newsletter articles:
    November 2011 ~ The Pinball Effect: How to Create Happiness
    April 2011 - Remembering What's Important
    February 2011 - We Are All Connected
    December 2010 - Optimism
    June / July / August 2010 - Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times
    June 2009 - Imagine a Vision and Make it Real 
    April 2009 - The  Good News!


smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  

  • Sometimes a laugh is the only weapon we have ... Roger Rabbit

                     Cartoon: "I only had enough room to go up to 2012" - "Ha!  That'll freak somebody out someday"


About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links.   We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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