5 Regrets When People Are About to Die

Posted by Michael Michelini on Dec 08 2010

Read this poem on facebook today from my friend Layheon Tan . Imagine….this amazing woman Bronnie Ware who wrote this…sharing her experiences with people who are about to die….listening to people on their deathbeds….imagine that…..imagine the perspective on life ….how your outlook on life must change….seeing people discuss the things they wish they had done before they died.

These are the 5 points,

1) I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2) I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3) I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5) I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Five 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, such as 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 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 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.

I hope this had as much a positive effect on it as it did for me…..I think I have been uncovering these sooner rather then later…hope I can live this way BEFORE I reach my deathbed.

Because when it all comes down to it, we will all be there on our deathbed….rich or poor, beautiful or ugly….and we will look back on our lives and reflect.

  • http://mikesblog.com mike

    No prob, thats the beauty of the internet, the power, almost scary how quick information can pass

    On my twitter I just posted how im actually im kinda scared of it now, seeing street vendors watching news, altering and shaping minds and perspectives so quickly. See http://yfrog.com/h4hwj0j

  • Piotr

    hey man, great post – good read!

  • http://mikesblog.com mike

    cool, glad you enjoyed, and thanks for the comment, motivates me to keep on going. sometimes i wonder if a post doesn’t get comments its not as popular

  • Layheon

    Hey dude! Thanks for paying it forward, passing it on!

    Feel a bit flattered too !

  • http://www.shenzhen-standard.com Marshall

    I think regretting work at the expense of friends and family is valid. However work in itself is part of life and is to be celebrated and enjoyed – building, working on things, being creative etc. These are all very important.

  • http://mikesblog.com mike

    hey Marshall,

    thats why I think the whole “work from home” boom is coming…..

    but I wonder….I am always “working” because I love what I do…but at the same time, my friends and family who don’t LOVE what I do, or UNDERSTAND what I am even doing, complain thats all I am ever doing….even though I am in the same room with them, watching TV (well its on in the background while I’m on my laptop)…

    sometimes I feel I am pissing off friends around me because I am always “Working” even though I’m “at home” with them….

    wonder if that is something I will regret……

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  • Dhebie

    Hi Michael,
    To share with you and to your blog readers, one of my favorites,
    When you were born, the world cries and you rejoice,
    Live your life in a such manner…
    So that when you die;
    The world cries and you rejoice

    …..and also, the best and important one: Let God be in our life always… Pray always!

  • http://mikesblog.com mike

    Hi Dhebie,

    thats a great quote – can I use that in an upcoming blog post?

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  • denise

    the quote is “”"When You Were Born You Cried And The World Rejoices”””……….actually written by Imam Ali (A). The Caliph after the Holy Prophet (S). HE married the daughter of the Prophet, Bibi Fatima (As was wrote by 

  • http://mikesblog.com Michael Michelini

    Thanks Dhebie,
    Thanks for sharing . Interesting to know who actually said it

  • frances kawala

    everyone should see this – and in good enough time to do something about it . . .  !

  • http://mikesblog.com Michael Michelini

    thanks dad, trying to be more prepared…. making some commitments ..

    would be awesome to see u in Vegas

    _____________
    Michael Michelini
    eCommerce Consultant

About Mike

American internet dude living in China (since '07) helping western companies leverage Chinese social media for business.

Passionate for working with more like-minded internet entrepreneurs. Love international business & connecting, and working on ways to give hard working people global opportunities. (Read More...)

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