Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Top 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, 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, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Original source –

Check out the book THE TOP FIVE REGRETS OF THE DYING by Bronnie Ware.
The amazon online shopping page for the book.



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199 Responses to Top Five Regrets of the Dying

  1. Rachel says:

    I came across this article 4 months ago (I just scrolled down to see that I left a comment on December 8), and it has not left my mind. As I work with clients, and as I give speeches and workshops, the valuable perspective and genuine information from this piece of writing keeps coming to my mind and then to my lips over and over again. I remember hearing as a kid that smart people learn from their mistakes, but SUPER smart people learn also from the mistakes of others. I think that is the value of this article for ME–that in a way, I get to learn from the regrets of others. I don’t know if everyone is at risk, but I know that I am at risk for lying in my final days, wondering if I could have been happier and if I squandered my friendships. I want to have more peace than angst in my final days about how I expended my time, money, energies, and affections. The compliment to this author is that I can’t get the message out of my head, and I believe that it is influencing many of my daily decisions. The larger compliment is that I try to pass the author’s message along so that it will inspire others as it has inspired me.

  2. Syd says:

    I love this! Lots of wisdom and spirituality being shared during these death and dying experiences. A roadmap for a most successful life. I’m not surprised to see “not being true to oneself” as #1. I believe living the principle “To thine ownSelf be true”, is the answer to a most successful life, and having no regrets when it’s time to go.

    I don’t claim to have all the answers, just life experineces, which like you Bronnie, include spending time with many dying people. I also have had my own life experiences that have taken right to the edge. I’m currently in the midst of another one of those experineces that threaten my physical existence, and I may not make it on through this one. So from my experience, which I consider experienced on this matter, I would agree with your list of regrets. Fortunate for me, I don’t have them simply because of being aware of these principles for a life well lived. Your sharing of these principles and wisdom, is a gift for those who care to listen.

  3. Tom says:

    Like many have already mentioned here, I truly believe one of the key issues here is taking things for granted. How quickly and profoundly peoples views and priorities change when they realise that what once they took for granted, breathing, just being alive, is cut short. It’s not like losing a lover or any other privilege that you may have, this is your life, the very reason you have love and many other privileges you probably take for granted. I know I definitely do, and thanks to this I am reminded again how lucky I should consider myself even when things seem so unfair at times.
    Thank you for this, I appreciate this greatly and i’m sure many others do too.
    Live and love without regrets and always think twice about what really “matters”.
    Thank you.

  4. Peter Shipton says:

    Many thanks to to Bronnie and to all who have posted here, especially to you, Charlene.
    I’m with you here, I also think it’s more helpful to ask a dying person what their message is, rather than focus on regrets.
    I do volunteer work in the palliative care unit of a hospital. Last night I was sitting with a dying man, who kept on talking in a soft voice. Finally I said, “I can’t hear you.” He replied, “That’s OK!” It was only then that I realized he was not talking to me.

  5. Beli says:

    WOW, that is so true! This is something that I needed to read! THANK YOU!

  6. Flimsum says:

    “Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

    Last time I checked, there weren’t any illnesses that related to bitterness and resentment, “Doctor”…

    • Abbey says:

      Perhaps the illnessess are evidenced in replying with sarcastic and unfounded responses to well intended messages of personal reflection… Oh wait that’s your illness.

      Perhaps in the completion of your medical or pyschological degrees (you do have one, right?) you missed the teachings of anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, insomnia, propensity to have ulcerated digestive systems and insomnia (to name just a few) that have a demonstrated direct correlation with the abovementioned unresolved emotional burdens.

      Save your uneducated critiques for your hillbilly family banter, and leave this woman of many years experience and kindness alone to impart some of her learnings.

      • Tom says:

        It’s just too easy to blame the patient for his own illness, especially if you don’t like the patient. Be kind.

      • Gabrielle says:

        Thank you Abby, I couldn’t agree more. I suffer from too MANY of the things you mentioned as a direct result. A small attempt of one example. Has anyone ever noticed the way all of our presidents look when they first take office? Now compare that to the way they ALL change in appearance during their term. Gray hair is not just a sign of aging, that’s an outward manifestation of stress, Flimsum,that means they look older cuz they’re buggin. Make sense now?!

    • Osho says:

      Respectfully: You need to take a deeper look at the nature of good health. Start with your own attitude.

    • valerie says:

      Actually, it is an established fact in the medical profession that our emotional states impact the immune system, directly influencing our physical health. This is the least scholarly article I could find.

    • DeNise Koetting says:

      As a Registered Nurse who has worked with the dying for many, many years – I can tell you there ARE illnesses related to bitterness and resentment. Heart disease, cancer, lung disease . . . . the list is long.

    • Diannemcr says:

      The number of illnesses that are at least indirectly related, if not directly related, to bitterness and resentment are too numerous to mention. These things both cause and are caused by stress, which impacts mental and physical health in striking ways. Very destructive.

    • Susan says:

      He is correct though. The more you experience and grow in life, you will learn this to be true.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Step back for a minute. You are reading this on your computer that means that you are more fortunate than most people on this planet. You have been blessed with food in your belly, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and obviously something to do. With those four things, that many do not have, you had everything you needed. If you were lucky enough to have two more things in life, finding someone to love and having the same person love you back, you have had all that really matters in life.

    Your situation even provided you with and education and the disposable income to buy a computer.

    So think about the wonderful life that you have and stop worrying about your bucket list. Everybody has some holes in their bucket of things that they wish they could have done. Spend some time on helping others get the four thing that they need in life and maybe some of them and you will also find the other two things that make life totally complete.

    Life is a short test on how we handle things. Your contentment depends on your own behavior and how you really feel about your actions.

  8. C says:

    Nobody truly knows what lies beyond, that’s why it’s called “faith”. So all we know for sure is this life. All around us we see people who have done the right things, served others as much as they could, been kind and thoughtful and generous with their time and money – who are at peace with themselves and with their God, they live with a smile and die with one too.
    We also see many examples around us every day of those who try the shortcut, the fastmoney road, who dont do the right things when others cant see them – they are not at peace, they are not happy, they die miserable.
    We all see this every day. It’s so obvious. Why cant we all understand this very simple concept?

  9. Mark Joseph Ball says:

    This is pretty heavy! Ya’ll should really check it out it’s pretty profound!

  10. Jeff says:

    My biggest regret in life is taking Cipro. My doctor prescribed it to me in October of 2009 for a “suspected” UTI. No one warned me it could potentially CRIPPLE me–not even the warning label. I only took twelve pills, and I’ve been in horrific unrelenting pain ever since, and I can no longer walk. My entire life was ended at the age of 30. Dead but still breathing. CIPRO IS POISON!!!

    • Dana says:

      Wow! It sounds like you might have valid grounds for a lawsuit there. A few months ago, my physician prescribed a medication for “high blood pressure”. I took it for the first time, and had disabling dizziness within a few hours. I gave it up for a few days, tried it again, and the same thing happened again. Obviously I discontinued taking it, and told the physician that my body was rejecting the medication, and there was no way I would continue taking it. I’ve since done some research and discovered that your body has an internal communications system: your organs “request” the setting of your blood pressure to the point at which those organs can get the supply of nutrients from your blood stream that they REQUIRE to operate properly. If you mess with what these organs need and request, they will rebel by virtually demanding that you stop taking the medication which is disrupting their nutrient supply. Allopathic (traditional “MD”) medicine is good for some things, but it’s got some serious “deficits of understanding” as well. I very much favour wholistic therapies and modalities. Good luck to you…I hope you can get in touch with a wholistic practitioner who can help you.

      • john says:

        I have a friend in ICU that is fighting for her life. She went to a wholistic practitioner, they treated her she didnt feel well and called her daughter to come get her from his office. Before she reached th hospital (less than 20 min) she was bleeding from her mouth eyes and nose. Her organs were shutting down.
        Once at the hospital they were able to stabilize her tcells at 14. (you want a min of 120).
        A man that was at th same clinic as my frieand recieved th same treatment, he died within hours.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you ever been tested for Lyme disease?

    • Leggies says:

      I’m sorry about what you have experienced with conventional health care. Have a look at Jim Humble’s website. It is worth reading about his dicovery of MMS. Maybe it could also help you. Good luck! Leggies

    • Gaston says:

      I had the same experience, Jeff. Cipro was prescribed to me a ridiculously long time. Then both my patellar tendons ruptured. The surgery was botched and I remain unable to do all kinds of things. Even walking downstairs is agonizing.

      I assume you know that the FDA now requires it to have “black-box” labeling. The truth is that Cipro’s makers have known about this side effect for many years.

    • Deer Jeff : I’m very sorry about your condition, the only thing that I believe that can help you it’s this miracle water this product has helped hundreds of people with similar conditions. please check the website listed above and good luck in your recovery.

      • Steve says:

        Miracle water? That’s pretty funny.

      • Looloo says:

        I have a different story. A bit off-track from the article, but in defense of Cipro. I had a very serious bacterial infection, from problems with my bilateral lymphodema. My doctor had warned me that if I noticed a particular smell, to notify him immediately.
        I did notice that smell about a week later. I notified my doctor, and he prescribed Cipro. Had he not, had I delayed notifying him, I may have lost my leg — or worse.
        Cipro, used in the right circumstances, can save your life. I only wanted to offer that as a balance.
        I am sorry it was so devastating to you, however.

    • Linda says:

      Jeff, I had no idea. I just had a doctor put me on it today. After reading your post I really dont think I should take it. 🙁

  11. silvia says:

    “Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them”
    nice fairy tales. my father did not. Too much morphine for nothing.

  12. Jay Schwartz says:

    It’s easy to say “everyday above ground is a good one”, but it’s harder to make it so when you’re in the thick of it. Thanks for sharing these wonderful sentiments as an important reminder of what’s important in life. I’ll certainly reference this in a future post.

  13. Patrick says:

    The inital post was very inspiring..the subsequent blogs…were all over the map, some correct..many not. I am no expert – I just know…try your best in this life. We are intentionally not perfect..we are prone to the wrong choices…decisions…etc. Don’t regret these… it’s part of our humanity. If we actually knew, factually proven… – what lies after death…then what purpose would Faith have??? There is a reason..beyond us now…why we either have faith or do not. Everyone has regrets – especially on our death bed. I like the message – Personally, I know I work too much…I know I should spend more time with family and friends…but – everyone – just do your best! That’ll be good enough…..

  14. Anna Beattie says:

    Have to say that for the most part I agree with that article. I worked in palliative care for more than a decade and the only thing I would say I found different was the idea of “not working so hard”, the sentiment was the same though, with wishing more time had been spent with children and loved ones, including the small things (those things which seemed small at the time anyway) like reading bedtime stories or snuggled up watching a film. The majority of my patients did find acceptance in the end,even the young patients showed an amazing amount of maturity and acceptance to what would happen, it was the parents who couldn’t accept. I always found that the hardest part was the ones left behind who seemed to have the most regrets in things they wished had been done differently,from a personal and a professional opinion. I started my nurse training aged 17 whilst caring for my husband who was diagnosed with terminal leiomyosarcoma so have experience from the professional and personal family aspect of regrets due to dying.

  15. Death is an integral part of all forms of life. The human form, for the most part, is wasted as it is this form that is the springboard to God’s kingdom. Rather than trying to develop our love for God we develop our love for the temporary material world and become attached to it. When death comes we become fearful because we have to leave it all behind. If we become attached to God and be in the world but not of the world, at the time of death we will see it as just another phase of our evolution. The body that awaits us is determined by our consciousness and our attachments when we leave our body. If attached to the world, we come back to the world. If attached to God, we do not come back to the material world. The body is not who we are but rather we are the spiritual being – the soul – residing in the body. Unbeknownst to us the soul takes on various labels – man, woman, black, white, red, yellow, dog, cat, etc. It is this reality that should cause us not to waste the human form. All forms are engaged in 4 activities – eating, sleeping, mating and defending. If we focus on these activities only while in the human form we are setting up the possibility of coming back in a lower form and having to evolve to the human form again. What a waste of innumerable lifetimes. If a sincere desire to know and love God manifests in your heart where He resides, He will work it out for you.
    Have faith!

    • Stephen says:

      I don’t want to be rude but the only response that comes to mind about your post is what a bunch of hogwash. I really don’t think you know the living God of the universe or what He tells us about life and death.

      • keen says:

        Stephen, please take a breath. Why does it bother you so much that someone else’s beliefs do not mirror yours? And too late, by using the word “hogwash” you’ve already been rude!

      • Bob says:

        “here is a true Israelite in whom there is no guile…” John 1. It’s something that Jesus responded to the skeptic by commending him for being forthright with his beliefs… and then giving him a reason to believe. Maybe being honest about our emotions (one of the things cited in the article) is commended by God — a step toward the truth. Come to think of it, He also spoke of turning the hearts of the fathers toward the children, and the children toward the fathers… something that hopefully takes place before the deathbed? Could it be that those on their deathbed start getting a pulse on what is really important — honesty, family, relationships, attitude. Almost sounds like repentance — changing the mind ( and maybe even recognizing the need for the mercy of God. What a perfect opportunity to present the One who was pierced to make that mercy available. “Let your conversation be full of grace…” )

    • Peta says:

      True Christians don’t believe in reincarnation !!!! Only Mormons and other non-Christian religions believe that our soul comes back after death in other forms.

      AND…….Having witnesses quite a few palliative care patients depart our presence, I can honestly say that those that had Faith in Christ and had accepted Him into their hearts, had a MUCH calmer and more comfortable death than the non-believers. They (the believers) were more accepting of their demise, with the belief that they were going to be with their Maker and previously departed friends and relatives. The non-believers struggled against death and the belief that their life was over and everything they had done during it had been a waste of time. They were more concerned about their lose, rather than those they were leaving behind.

      • Anonymous says:

        Haha! Mormons believe in reincarnation??? you obviously don’t know what you are talking about..

      • Carly says:

        Because you say that Mormons are “non-Christian”, I can assume that you have never been well-informed of the religion. The LDS religion is based on faith in Christ – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The name “Mormon” was given to us as a nickname becuse of our belief in the Book of Mormon, and we are, by all means, a church of Christ. We have never, nor will we ever believe in reincarnation. We believe that there is a heaven above and that we can be forgiven of our transgressions and welcomed into the gates of heaven with open arms. We will be reunited with our friends and family again. Worldly objects and material posessions do not matter.

        I believe that death is nothing to be feared. Those who fear death the most and those who have the deepest regrets are usually afraid of the “unknown”. What an unsettling thought, that this life could be all there is. Most of my dearest friends are non-believers, and attending funerals with them is heartbreaking. I am extremely blessed to have felt the comfort of my beliefs.

        I am not saying this as a naive Mormon. I have lived both an extremely religious lifestyle, and an extremely non-religious lifestyle. I know what the view looks like from both sides, and I have learned what is true for myself. I am exceedingly grateful for my faith and for my religion. I hope when my time comes that I will greet death with absolutely no regrets, but with anticipation.

      • Steve says:

        That’s interesting, since actual studies have shown that evangelical Christians, at least in the U.S., demand more heroic medical intervention at end-of-life than people do on average. It seems that they in fact have a lot of trouble letting go.

        Perhaps people with such “deep” faith in an afterlife are merely scared silly of dying, and will grasp at any straw in order to nullify it.

    • Steve says:

      Are you just expressing your faith? Because it looks like you’re telling me to believe what you believe. I don’t share your faith, and if I tell you I don’t believe what you believe, some people who do believe what you believe will take offense.

      Are all beliefs equal? I’m quite sure you would think not.

      • Carly says:

        You seem to think that my comment was intended to force my religion down your throat, when I can guarantee you that that was not at all my intention. My response to Peta’s comment was not made in order to “preach”; I was merely giving some insight to the LDS religion, as it appeared he/she had been misinformed.

        Poking fun at LDS practices doesn’t provoke me. I’m more than okay with you joking about something that you don’t understand or don’t believe in. I have a sense of humor, and some practices in other religions are strange and mysterious to me. I get it. But just for saying that, I’m gonna baptize the sh*t out of you.

        I agree. I think everyone is afraid of dying, because nobody knows what it feels like…even people that have ‘died’ and then come back can’t tell you. It’s a human fear. I don’t believe that evangelical Christians are more afraid, unless they believe that they’re going to be ‘judged’ once their souls move on to the afterlife. I’m not saying that every Christian or every Mormon is not afraid of death; I’m just saying that personally, I’m not afraid of it because I know it is not the end for me.

        You seem to have stereotyped all Mormons, or whatever group you have gathered as being judgemental, but I can assure you that I would never tell you or even think that your religion or lack thereof is less important than mine. I don’t think any less of my friends who belong to other religions, are atheist, or anything other than LDS. Everyone isn’t as close-minded as you think they are, and if the Mormons that you have met are giving off that impression, clearly you are meeting the wrong Mormons.

  16. Kris says:

    “Wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” Proverbs 8

    “Many waters cannot quench love; neither can the floods drown it.”
    Song of Solomon 8: 7

  17. J. Alley says:

    Thought this song seemed most fitting

    Live like you were Dying- Tim McGraw

    He said I was in my early forties
    with a lot of life before me
    when a moment came that stopped me on a dime
    and I spent most of the next days
    looking at the x-rays
    Talking bout the options
    and talking bout sweet time
    I asked him when it sank in
    that this might really be the real end
    how’s it hit you when you get that kinda news
    man what’d you do

    and he said
    I went sky diving
    I went Rocky Mountain climbing
    I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named FuManchu
    and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
    and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying
    and he said someday I hope you get the chance
    to live like you were dying.

    He said I was finally the husband
    that most the time I wasn’t
    and I became a friend a friend would like to have
    and all the sudden going fishin
    wasn’t such an imposition
    and I went three times that year I lost my dad
    well I finally read the good book
    and I took a good long hard look
    at what I’d do if I could do it all again

    and then
    I went sky diving
    I went Rocky Mountain climbing
    I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named FuManchu
    and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
    and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying
    and he said someday I hope you get the chance
    to live like you were dying.

    Like tomorrow was a gift and you got eternity to think about
    what’d you do with it what did you do with it
    what did I do with it
    what would I do with it’

    Sky diving
    I went Rocky Mountain climbing
    I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named FuManchu
    and then I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
    and I watched an eagle as it was flying
    and he said someday I hope you get the chance

    • Cynthia Crisp says:

      I am on a team of women who walk the 60 mile 3-day all over the country. We’ve now been walking for 11 years…sometimes multiple cities per year, so I have completed 16. For a fundraiser, many of us went skydiving and this song played throughout the day. My husband was 25 years my elder (which made him 78, but didn’t look or act it). He was present and offered to jump with me if I thought it would lessen my apprehension. I told him I thought it would be very selfish for me to aske my 78 year old, ill husband to jump out of an airplane…I would be fine. I learned after that as I was boarding, he was crying…because he was so concerned for my safety. I did jump…and found it to be such an exciting experience…and the next day, as my husband became sicker, I took him to Mass General and while we were waiting for his diagnosis, he shared my jump with all the doctors and nurses…he was so proud! Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I spent the next 37 days with him…and during that time, we were able to say everything we wanted to say. One of the things I asked, was that he would send me a sign to let me know that he was ok. I had the best life in the world…and 37 days later, I had the worst. But, I have received MANY signs…and some of them have come in song…that song. I think he did…and so do I…and now I tell everyone…..”Live like you were dying!”

    • Michael S. Carbery Jr. says:

      I once had a good friend who lived like he was dying. Tim McGraw’s song Live Like You Are Dying is one of my favorites. When my friend was dying with cancer I could not listen to it. As a breast cancer survivor Tim McGraw’s song has become my favorite. Life is a short trip so Im enjoying the ride every day !

  18. We can learn a lot from those who are ahead of us in this race we call life.

  19. Jon says:

    As an ex nurse with a few years in geriatric care plus being in my youthful 60s I can relate to your thoughtful post. They say the biggest room in the world is the “room for improvement” but towards the end of our natural lives the room for regret could be even larger. Of course some leave this earth suddenly through unexpected accidents and may have less time to dwell on what might have been.

    A useful quote to live by:

    Live every day as if it were your last and then some day you’ll be right.
    ~H.H. “Breaker” Morant

  20. Cathy Dalton says:

    Thanks for this. I saw both my parents die too young from cancer, and resolved after y mother died, at 71, that if I only had another 30 years left-less than I’d lived- I was going to live it differently. I left a destructive relationship, am studying for a PhD and finally, in my late 40s, taking singing lessons. I work from home which allows me to be with my children more, as I also have to travel for work. I’ve put an end to contact with some members of my family circle, and even finally said things I’d held in for years, while putting up silently with constant criticism. I’m much happier, and much nearer to the 11-year-old girl in the photo standing on her hands, who looks like she could conquer anything. There are second chances, for everyone. Live the life you deserve.

  21. This is a hugely moving post. This year, at age 26, I took the leap of faith to start following my dreams and despite the emotional and financial difficulties that sometimes ensue thanks to not having a 9-5 job, I NEVER think I made the wrong decision. I am so happy with my life now, and it feels good to know that I’ll probably feel the same way when I’m at the end of my life.

  22. JoizeFnF says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I have 4 sisters, 1 brother and a mother and father. I am estranged from all but one and the relationship is shaky at best. She will never grasp the love I have for her and her children, but maybe someday, she will. The people who gave birth to me were awful parents and a mother who always told me that she could not wait for my 18th birthday so she could throw me out, which she and my father did. I took my grandmother from their physical, mental and financial abuse and moved her in with me at age 74 and enjoyed her as both friend and grandmother until her passing at age 87 in 2003. I believe she died missing her only son and there was no way I could fill that void. She still lives on in my heart and mind. She was really the only adult in my life, as a child, teen and adult who gave me unconditional love and support. I am not blessed to be sharing my adult life for the last 23 years with a very special man. I believe my grandmother shines on not only both of us, but the relatives that I have no relationship with.

  23. Trevor Stewart says:

    I suppose the biggest issue will be, do you have any hope after death? Or is it all hopeless and all of who you are is gone forever….. and death brings nothingness, what a horrible thought.

    In the book of Hebrews chapter 9 and verses 27 and 28 we read….

    Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation.

    My wife worked in a hospital and witnessed those who were dying without Christ and they were often in distress and there were others who did know Jesus and departed in peace….

    There is life after death but you can choose to call out to him, now to save you, so that it will be a life with Jesus that you have in all of eternity….. its a long time!

    Please don’t think I’m a religious fanatic – look in to this and find out for yourself – if what I say is true!…..

  24. Hugely inspiring post – thank you

  25. Such a great article! Thanks for the insight and for sharing! Definitely going to bookmark this one and refer back to it time and time again. And passing it along! Thanks !!!

  26. C. E. says:

    Wow–this blog is a sad statement mostly by people who do not know that Heaven is home. Look at your lives, people. Who are you living for? Live outside your selves. And happiness is ALWAYS a choice. There are always things to be happy about, things to be sad about. I may honor the sad things; but I CHOOSE to be happy. And I also do not fear death–it is a homecoming. Life can be an attitude of gratefulness–and how can you not be happy if you realize how lucky you are that when you turn on a tap water comes out? I live life in utter gratitude. There is nothing–NOTHING–that can happen to me that I will not thank God. Even the catastrophes are opportunities for growth. Blessings can be wrapped in strange garments.

    • Jevie says:

      Thank you C.E. The Lord has richly blessed You with true wisdom. I’ve been reading A.W. Tozer’s daily devotionals and in Dec. they focused on Holiness over Happiness. I appreciate your insight into this topic as I have been having a hard time with understanding it. God Bless You

  27. Spider42 says:

    Honestly, each one of those 5 points is something that is utterly and undeniably true. People can say what they will and be as obtuse as they want but life is too short and we as a species just don’t know how to let s**t go and try and be happy.

    I’m going to refrain from ranting though – excellent post, beautiful idea and I’m going to share this with everyone I think has enough of a brain to comprehend it and then some.


  28. I’m 61. I’ve always wanted to go to college. I’m going to do it, now and get that art degree! Thanks for this blog.

  29. cheryl says:

    There is a lot we cannot comment on until we are @ the end!! Being self employed, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid!! I already know I wish I was more of A patient person!! I’ve already learned a lot in my life having A child W/ A disability! I’ve learned to not judge people right away!! So I guess I’ve learned A couple things in my 47 yrs! Hopefully i’ve got alot longer to learn & make mistakes!!!

  30. Anonymous says:

    I am 30 and my father passed away when I was 21. Its been 9 years and I still remember him like yesterday. However we never had that happy relationship in our family, but i always felt that, If somebody ask him top five regrets, he would have talked about having a happy family that he couldnt live for.

  31. Patsy says:

    This is fabulous. I’d love to be able to share this with my low-motivation groups (charity organised) with full credit to you of course. Heart-warming and thought provoking for them, especially in todays world 🙂 Thank you

  32. Erik Hansen says:

    Congratulations on getting so much blog traffic by copying and pasting someone else’s work. It’s nice that you at least gave credit to the author, but why not provide a brief excerpt or two from the original, provide your own thoughts on the matter, then link to it? It’s right here:

    Take care,

    • Gary Graefen says:

      I feel pride when people like something I did enough to copy it and circulate it. Focusing on someone getting views is silly-get over it. I have given away more stuff than I can count. The internet is about sharing.

      • Jeremy says:

        Hopefully the author of the original article gave permission for this re-use. I have to take issue with your statement that “the internet is for sharing.” It’s not that simple. See, among other sites on this subject. “Without proper knowledge, users unintentionally break the copyright laws that govern the Internet. . . All Internet users must assume that a work is copyrighted, unless otherwise specified by the author.” As someone who’s had much material stolen and reproduced without permission, in spite of obvious copyright notices, this is a very important subject to me.

  33. intepid says:

    I have great trouble believing that more people didn’t regret the sex they didn’t have when they were young and able. Surely that would be in the top 5?

  34. It’s not too late to enjoy life. Laugh much kiss and hug often tell people you love them. Share whatever you have. I’m a caregiver for 9 yrs, and I have seen death. When we’re born it’s out twin and most of us just live and we never Plan to die. But death should be taken with pride and dignity, after all we will have the best of “life” when we pass to the other side. We get to see the paradise that God has promised, mingle with all them ANGELS. See Father and Mother God and Jesus and all our loved ones who passed before us. So for me “there’s no regrets and “sorry” life it was your destinity and we fulfill that wether we like it on not. GOD BLESS…

  35. Rachel says:

    Every one of the five points gave me something to think about NOW. The recurring theme that struck me at my deepest level is one of acting in accordance with what I want most. What I REALLY want most. The challenge, of course, is to get clear on what it is we REALLY want, and to make sure that we’re getting to the heart of things. For example, do we wish we had a lot of money? Is that what we want? Or do we want the freedom, or spare time, or reputation, or influence that we believe that money would bring us? Once we get more specific about what we REALLY want, we can go after it.

    This gave me a lot to think about, and even though I work with clients all the time to help them get clear on their own desires, I appreciate a jolt to remind me that I need to assess and reassess my own life as often as possible so I don’t end up unhappy on my deathbed. But for the grace of God go we all.

    Many thanks for putting this down in writing for us all to contemplate.

  36. What a great, profound post. I regularly reflect on my life, considering if I died tomorrow would I be happy with how I lived it but these observations took these reflections to a new level. Thank you!

  37. testsexpert says:

    Thannks for sharing great tips. I am always big fan of Bronnie Ware a great author.

  38. Chris Bruno says:

    Having lost my mother to cancer at the young age of 60 and now watching mh father battle cancer at 81, your post has true meaning to me. I can personally reflect on each of these 5 regrets. As a retired police officer, I saw many people die and even more face life changing situations. I am very much moved by the things you wrote here and am going to try and make sure some don’t apply to me when I am ready to pass on.

  39. Jacqueline says:

    My friend just passed this along to me today. It is absolutely amazing. I used to volunteer in a nursing home all of high school, and I think that it really helped to put life in perspective, even at a young age. Life IS short. You just never know when it will be our time or someone else’s, so it’s that much more important to say what we need to say, to what we need to do, and be true to ourselves!

  40. deborah says:

    You don’t need to wait until you get a diagnosis to contemplate your own death. Buddhists (at least in the Tibetan tradition) have long taught the need to contemplate and meditate on your own death. This tends to creep out Westerners, but it puts your life in perspective, just in the way an actual diagnosis does. You come out of such a meditation/contemplation refreshed and renewed as to your core values, in a way that just reading an article (even as wonderful an article as this) can’t do for you. I recommend it as a way to deepen the insights gained from this article.

  41. Marco says:


    This was a weird but fun CAPTCHA. :p

    Second, your first item is also said by Steve Jobs in his Stanford Commencement Speech. One of the most inspiring things I have ever seen.

    It changed my life completely. He basically says to not live life with dogma, which is the result of other people’s thinking and to follow your own path, no matter what others may think or say.

    The other points though, just as inspiring.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I like that “I wish I were more religious” didn’t make the top five. This shows that near the end, people realize that they have made their own choices in life, and didn’t have to lean on the crutch of religion to live a happy, fruitful life.

  43. Dona L. Crane says:

    This article reached me where I live and quickly helped me sort out a few things. I’ve got some changes to make.

  44. Neil says:

    I’m going to print that out an paste it on my office wall right now so that I will be reminded of it every day.
    It’s amazing how simple things make the biggest difference in life.
    Thank you for sharing that – I will be passing it along to all my friends!

  45. glen r says:

    My regret: I wish I’d played more Angry Birds!

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  47. nelsonRN says:

    This is a very inspiring post. It made me reflect on my own life. Thanks for sharing this.

  48. This is a GREAT article. Thank you! In my work with families I seek to inspire families to develop and live a better balance. I’ve developed a tool for myself (and I’ve begun to teach it to others) that I use on a daily basis – instead of a mere to-do list – to organize my day according to areas of purpose. One of those areas is family and friends. One of them is being in touch with taking care of myself and being in touch with what I want. One other is my mission. One of them is my job. And one more is my mastermind group that I’ve been meeting with for the past five years. Not every day ends up perfectly balanced between those areas, of course. But overall, when I use the tool daily, my lifestyle ends up being happier, more on target with my inner sense of purpose and healthier as well.

  49. Ian Timothy says:

    My father was a rich man he would have given everything to have cured his cancer, I am certain that you must live your life in your own way, and try to live with truth, love and generosity, you will never be remembered for what you leave, only for how you lived

  50. Bless A. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing such insights… I do hope that when my time or any of my loved ones time comes that we’re able to do be at peace with ourselves…to be able to live life to the fullest…to say I LOVE YOU to everyone dear to our hearts. And, most ask forgiveness to anyone we’ve ever hurt in the process…Reading these words by the author made me realize how lucky we still are to have good health. God bless everyone 🙂

  51. Jules says:

    A thought provoking blog post……many passionate responses that touch on death, regret, G-d, addiction, what if”s, should-haves, would-haves, could-haves….

    This is why the blog world is wonderful, everyone can have a say. There is room for us all. We are lucky to be here, aren’t we?

  52. Anonymous says:

    A thought provoking blog post……many passionate responses that touch on death, regret, G-d, addiction, what if”s, should-haves, would-haves, could-haves….

    This is why the blog world is wonderful, everyone can have a say. There is room for us all. We are lucky to be here, aren’t we?

  53. babette ory says:

    When @18&22 almost 23, both my parents passed on.Learning both love & tolerance.
    Yes being a caretaker from childhood was like being an adult in a young body,nursing two adult children. my dad was 67 1/2 &my mom 42 when I was born. So my day made it to 86 ,my mom to 65 only , seems like yesterday .In the years since 73&77, many friends,two husbands,my babies, pets,jobs,homes, .At the end i have no regrets.Others
    wanted me to be Or do another path,after my early service to my parents & some to my mates & friends, mostly I was paid to work & care for others, Yes Suffering is a constant, yet we make choices as to how we care for ourselves 7 allow others into our some times latched hearts, open compassion & forgiveness is key to living a purposeful life.

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  55. healhurt says:

    It is easy to blame. This is how most of us were brought up. I hope when I am dying I have developed a more self-gentle attitude: self-forgiving, mercy: I did my best, there were good reasons for the painful experiences – my background and circumstances. I sense anger in such texts like these. However, yes, it is a good message: True to your self, the best you can.

  56. Elliemay says:

    As a hospice nurse for 33 years, what Bronnie Ware says here is what most experience and teach those of us who have a passion for this work. My patients and families often had no idea they were the teachers and I the student. It is both a privilege and an honor to be with people at this stage of their lives. I feel blessed to have known those who were indeed the best teachers and those who love and care for them. Thank you Bonnie for sharing such an insightful article.

  57. Beth says:

    Thank you for the reminder,
    It is so easy to get sucked into the grind and fast pace of this world trying to make it all work, survive work…that I forget to slow down and live the lessons I’ve learned.

    Each second is a gift and should be savored…..
    We have no time to waste being unhappy….
    Our lives are what we make them…
    If I am not true to myself, no one else will be…
    When all else fails, submerse oneself in water with a scuba tank and blow bubbles..

  58. Synduatic says:

    This post – succinctly – captured lightning in a bottle. Thank you. I truly cannot think of anything more important than the ideas – fashioned from anecdotes – contained in this post.

  59. Luna Kadampa says:

    This is a fabulous article, thank you so much.

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  61. chamightlike says:

    Not a day goes by that I don’t actively seek out inspiring texts (like this one) to read in order to be motivated to live life to the fullest. Great post indeed.

    (I’ve bookmarked in my Firefox for a rainy day. Thank you.)

    I particularly liked this quote:

    “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.”

    I, myself, have not completed even a tenth of my bucket list and I aim to put more effort into doing so.

    Recently however…

    I’ve been thinking a lot about looking back at your life and thinking what could have been done differently.

    My two cents is that looking back at life’s decisions is a lot like picking stocks or buying mutual funds with 20-20 hindsight.

    It’s kind of delusional.

    It’s certainly tempting to think what wasn’t chosen would have been the better choice. In fact, the mind loves engaging in best case scenario extrapolations of a perceived past opportunity missed, or even rueing present circumstances based on perceived more greenness of grass on the other side.

    For example, you might bump into an old classmate who went into Law and see how he’s really successful now and then feel like crap about yourself afterwards.

    But there’s no guarantee that if you had indeed gone that route you would have had the inner resources to make it. Or if you had made it, you would be successful ($$$). There are plenty of starving lawyers out there. Or if you did make a lot of money, you would have been happy with yourself. Maybe your friend is putting up a false front and is really miserable inside.

    Here’s another example.

    You’re at your death bed. You think: I should have been a musician. But maybe if you had gone that route you would have been a mediocre musician at best. Because now that you’re dying, and you can’t be a musician, you think how you would have been the greatest musician ever, but you don’t think about all the work that goes into being the best, or the luck involved.

    It’s easy to skip over the roughly 10,000 hours required to be an expert at most endeavors.

    So much so, that if you were indeed given your life back, you might think about the insurmountableness of all that dedication required and then decide after all: nah, I don’t want to be a musician.

    It’s the same thinking involved when kids beg their parents to buy them a guitar and let them take lessons and then two lessons in, fingertips callused, they want to give up.

    Dreams take a huge amount of work that most of us aren’t prepared to commit to.

    I realize that I’m kind of digressing from this blog post, and the author’s message is really about being more courageous with your life while you still have time.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t just think about how things could have been so much better. They could have been a whole lot worse…even if you had pursued your dreams.

    • Michelle says:

      wow way to ruin a moment. jeeze. nowhere in the text did it say these people thought they’d come out rock stars. not all dreams have to do with fame, success, and wealth. i really doubt camping in the redwood forest or learning to play the harmonica is going to make my life worse.

      • hmm says:

        ‘Chamightlike’ is completely right. Have your inspirational moment but stay in touch with reality. The reason why “nowhere in the text did it say…” is that the text is extremely general to appeal to a wider audience. If you take a specific example from real life, as ‘chamightlike’ did, then you’d realize that it doesn’t always work out that way. But you don’t want to think in terms of reality, do you?

        • Anna O. says:

          I really needed to read chamightlike’s response. It helped me to put some things into perspective for me, as I tend to beat myself up for not having the energy to invest in my dreams. However, for myself, I think what’s most important for me is not that I’ve met my ideal of being a stupendous dancer for example (which is my dream), but just the fact that I’m taking the time from my daily grind, to slow down and live my life to its fullest.

          My ex-husband (now a dear friend) has always said, “Live your life, Live it well, Live it now!” I am so glad that I FINALLY pushed myself 4 months ago to take dance lessons I’ve so desperately wanted my whole life. I knew, absolutely KNEW that I would love it, and on top of that, I’ve always known I’d be an incredible dancer and let me tell you, I am a natural. I’ve learned so much about myself as well. 🙂

          I was always so apprehensive to start because I knew it would take hours and years of grueling investment, but once you feed into a passion, it doesn’t feel grueling and never ending. After I leave my dance studio, I cannot wait for my next chance to dance.

          Live you life, Live it well, Live it now!

    • Dayle Ann Stratton says:

      While some of what you say has some validity, here is the only part of it that relates to the post: “I realize that I’m kind of digressing from this blog post, and the author’s message is really about being more courageous with your life while you still have time.” This isn’t about them, nor is it even about us at the end of our lives– and acknowledging what was really important to them. It’s about us living our lives, and learning from people who are going through that last review. It’s not saying they are beating themselves up. It’s saying that there are times in all our lives when we have choices, and let them get away for the wrong reasons. It’s sure the heck NOT about not becoming a lawyer. I’ve had a serious illness that took me close to where the people she is talking about were, and believe me, the things that were important was regretting choices I made that hurt other people. At the same time, I also was able to feel satisfaction in much of my life. But the point here is what can WE learn from these people, who have a gift to share with us?

    • jos says:

      Hey there…yes you did stray from the initial message of the blog…and uncovered other great truths. Thanks for this adjuct to the post. I really enjoyed and appreciated your straying into other pastures.

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  63. BB says:

    To those that “give” their lives over to some mystical being, just pull yourself up by your bootstraps, take control of your own life. Take responsibility for your own actions/reactions and learn to love your flawed, crazy, selfish, giving self. When you do that, you now have the basic recipe for happiness and the ability to love others and you give others the ability to love you. Ignorance breeds fear, fear breeds stupidity and thus selfish regrets at the end of ones life. You are alive so make the most of it cause when you are dead, well… you are dead.

    • Maria says:

      BB’s answer, so far, seems to me the best. We all look back and have regrets, remorses and this can only make us unhappy. We have to accept our flaws, our defects , all the suffering and pain that we may have experienced, but above all, accept ourselves for having tried to do our best, even when we didn’t succeed. Once we accept all this and let go of guilt and remorse then we can focus on the GOOD things of our lives and begin to enjoy them. If we don’t learn to love ourselves, as imperfect human beings that we all are, we can’t love others either. So yes, take responsabilty and start loving yourself and then others will love you too creating joy and happiness inside you. When the time comes for us to leave this life perhaps we can then go in peace.

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  65. Curtis Landsberger says:

    My life has been under reevaulation and now I mysteriously come across these writings…I truely needed this. Thank you.

    • John Jordan says:

      I have been dealing with a disease since being told in Aug 13 2010 with the prognoses of at 2 least a years to live if I don’t start the meds I need to battle, me since then has been a whirl wind emotional cyclone of my past slamming into my future of regrets all because of fear of living but came out the other side with a new since of being on this great rock in the universe, I simply put my life in over drive, I gone and rectify wrongs I have done and said things I would of if I wasn’t scared into my existence was jeopardized, I’m just 40 years old and finally happy with my life and with a woman that feels the same way she is my rock and my place to hide from the world when things get bad
      Now I know my destiny, And I’m going forth with life and living it to the max it may sound like all negative but “NO”simply it’s not my time to go just a gut feeling just listen to the song by Three Doors Down it’s not my time my battle song when I was feeling defeated with myself and my illness, and I learned to laugh more something that was lacking before, I now make jokes about my situation that when my wife knew I was coming around mentally I was getting better my family would get mad when I do this not going to change what’s working for me on how I coup. I so love myself now after years of torturing my soul over stuff that was just nonsense bull shit, drama relationship failures. Dam could write a book on my life all the stuff I have done and seen I have done things in my life that make me proud of who I am cause in the end that is all that matters:)

  66. Eric Erickson said of the last stage of life it will either be satisfying or full of regrets — you must live with an eye on this choice.

  67. Tony says:

    Brilliant, simple and to the point. I will definitely share with others.

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  69. Material life is energetic vibration at it’s densest lowest tempo before animate biological manifestation ceases and becomes mineral solidity.
    As all energy is consciousness and consciousness is energy, .. then
    We are all one infinite consciousness that is experiencing itself subjectively!
    There is no such thing as death!
    Life is a dream!
    We are the imagination of ourselves!

  70. Stephen Pate says:

    Thanks for that reminder that life is all we get. I wasted decades afraid of religion, then of being poor. At 49 I retired with not enough money to get through 6 months. 14 years later life is wonderful. Despite a new disability, I got a chance to start a rock band!, busk as a songwriter in the streets, write songs, poems, rail against tyranny, protest the system, make movies, working on a book, start all over again in love – there is still a lot of learning to do and what great fun. How sweet is the moment.

    • Denys Finney says:

      You’re so lucky, will do my best to emulate!!!

    • Queenie says:

      I feel so sad for some of you who seem to have missed the joy associated with being a Christian. There will come a day when you will regret not having a loving relationship with God. Being in God’s Will brings lasting joy. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotton Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” We, ourselves, can take no credit for our blessings. All blessings come from God. Praise Him.

  71. Susan says:

    I agree that health brings a freedom very few of us appreciate, until it’s gone. I completely disagree that “from the moment you lose your health, it’s too late.” As one who has “lost” her health, it’s not too late. As long as there’s life, that life can be lived well. I’ve often said, “I can’t be well; but I can live well.” The first is not within my control; the second is.

  72. Claire J says:

    What a wonderful blog post. Thanks for writing it. 🙂

  73. CRANK says:




    life is the celebration of moments.. enjoy it… CRANK

  74. Lynne Hailes says:

    This is a must read for everyone! Such an appropriate and concrete reminder of life and the need for us to be true to ourselves to find that alignment that then cascades into all realms of our life. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  75. Anonymous says:

    Please read this everyone….it is so important…..

  76. A King's Life says:

    Beautiful article that summed up the reasons why we have chosen to travel the world with our 3 and 1 yr old. No regrets, follow our dreams and love like mad.

    Shared on all social media sites… It’s that good. Nice job.

  77. What an incredible blog post. What incredible lessons and take aways… a true classic and a must read.
    E-mailing this to my list now!

  78. phill says:

    it is 100% fact & trueth, that one day we are all going to die; so …LIVE…LOVE…LIFE

  79. Stefan Carey, Melbourne, Australia says:

    My advice to men:

    I think you should try to marry someone who won’t pressure you to keep up with others, and and resist the temptation in yourself to overspend just to look like you are doing well. You’ll do better if you save the money instead, and you will be less stressed. Try to live a simpler life and try to live to your own agenda. Otherwise you will be in debt for long time, and be unable to leave a job you dislike, forever unable to speak your mind.

    When you are within five-ten years of retirement, start planning for how you are going to spend the time. I joined a choir and took up the bass guitar in readiness.

    Of course this is only my opinion.

  80. phill says:

    it is 100% fact & trueth, that one day we are all going to die; so …LIVE…LOVE…LIFE

  81. Pete says:

    What you say is true I was a cancer patient and saw many other patients who had different cancers than me pass away. The worst word I heard was a very small one only two letters which captivated the entire persona ( if you will ) of dying. The word has made me a much better person and I cannot thank the lost souls that helped me by letting me know what it was and how simple it is to not fall into thier trap. It’s not religious, it’s not a social thing . It’s a simple word that we all know and it is “IF”. Please don’t leave this planet with “If I had done this , this might not of happened!” “I f I had seen more of my family I wouldn’t be here lonely “. To conclude To live you live to the full potential eleminate the “If’s”

  82. M D Fisher says:

    Death is no mystery any more than birth, teething, puberty, parenthood or age. It is simply the end of life. There is nothing more. You did not exist before birth, and you do not exist after death.

    • Cheryl says:

      If people want to believe in something more to help them get through this life then there is nothing wrong with that. This is only your opinion and you are welcome to it just as those with different opinions.

    • Heather says:

      I never really believed in life after death but I really didn’t believe either. But I leaned more towards your way of thinking and although I did not see the physical form of my father after his death, I can tell you 100% that the happenings were not explainable and proved to me that he was still with me, only in a different form.

    • Judy says:

      You have no way of knowing that.
      Just because you do not believe in a World to Come doesn’t mean you change reality. What happens if you’re wrong? Big surprise after you die (and perhaps not a pleasant one if you did not make good choices in this world)

    • Queenie says:

      Not true. God knew us before we were born. If you are an intelligent person, read the Bible. You will find many answers to questions you didn’t even know you had. Life without a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ isn’t a real life. We should not brag about ourselves or be highminded – all blessings come from God. Let us praise Him.

      • Mason says:

        For you to have said that makes you just as ignorant as the next guy. We may never know what this “Life” is but to accept it means not following the popular choice, in this case the bible, but to believe in what makes you happy and what will allow you to be at peace with your troubled mine. May your own words carry you to your death bed. Don’t let someone else write your life story.

  83. Dan says:

    The author echoes my beliefs in life. So, if I can chime in a little of my 2 cents.

    What I think I read is that you get to choose how you wish to live your life so live beautifully. Life, is NOT a choice. We did not choose to come to this world but we get to choose how we make of it. We are the author who gets to write our very own life story, so make your life story a beautiful and happy one.

  84. MeMah says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, thank you Bronnie Ware. For those who would like more on this topic, I found Staring at the Sun by Irving Yalom a thought-provoking look at death anxiety and the power of an awakening experience such as a life-threatening illness. Yalom asserts that the greater the perception of the ‘life unlived’ or regrets, the greater the death anxiety. Consistent with what Bronnie has heard from her patients, one of Yalom’s take home messages is that the sooner we start living our lives consistently with our values, expressing ourselves and spending time connected with loved ones, the longer we can be at peace while alive.

  85. Racheal Nicholas ( maiden O'Brien/McPherson) divorced says:

    This is so wonderful. I have learnt many of these comments as I believe in ‘do unto others as you wish to be done to yourself’. Although, surely if I was to be told I had a short time left to live I would definetly find things , mostly people, to refine relationships/freindships to a comfortable basis. ie: I would want people to know I love them and why : I would wish my family and peers the understanding that has been explained in the above texts, what I want to do cor them and why, so their minds and souls would be content knowing that I AM eternally happy , mind body and soul, and that when I don’t /didn’t seem content to them, that is was most probably due to the fact that we did not Understand each other. This is something I am still learning within myself, ‘that it is not possible to have those I love to unconditionly understand me’, although I guess as I am content in my life and how I conduct it day by day, that they themselves can live their living lives to the fullest.

  86. Miss Lai Lai says:

    I love this post. Thanks for sharing. I think most people know about these at the back of their minds, but yet, it takes a lot of courage for one to pursue their dreams. I am on a sabbatical leave to spend time on traveling writing and photography, and it was scary when I took the plunge, but I don’t want to live without regrets, so I went ahead.

    It never felt so right to do it. 🙂

    • Rachel says:

      Wow…good for you! Not enough people take those scary leaps. I was scared when I took the summer off to go to South Africa and volunteer. I was terrified, in fact. But the truth is that NOT going scared me more than GOING! That’s how you know you are making the right decision. What is that expression…that courage is not the absence of fear, but action in the face of fear (or something like that). I hope you will inspire others to take scary steps!

  87. Cathy Barzo says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I’m going to share this with my Dad. He’s in remission with his cancer and he’s got time ahead to have fun, remember his friends and some more living too do.

  88. This is exactly what I tell everyone: love and relationship matter more than money. I don’t think anyone will be thinking of money in his death bed.

  89. Jasmin says:

    Thanks for sharing! I agree so much with these points and it makes me feel even more confident to follow nothing but my own spirit! All the best, love from Germany! Jazz

  90. Teri Taylor says:

    I don’t remember who said this, or the words exactly, but… Death must be such a wonderful thing, because no one ever bothers to return…. It would be nice to live without pain- of any kind. I’m tired of all of it.

  91. Teri Taylor says:

    This man’s comments are so true. I’m only 39. So, maybe I have time to change my thinking about the rest of my time here. Death should be a release, not a punishment though. Hum….

  92. Robin Ayers says:

    I do live each day as if it were the last but…I’m who I am now! I may not think my present life very worthwhile in another 10 years! I’m horrified at the person I was in my 30s -but I do remember very well that I thought I was a very good person! That’s the problem. We are all growing. So each new stage of our lives is so much better than the previous. I work far too hard and might one day regret this -but right now it matters that I continue!

  93. Eric Rife says:

    This is probably one of the most essential short articles I’ve ever read.

    My deepest gratitude!

  94. Pingback: Top Five Regrets of the Dying | Beyond the Opposites « LYNNE SANDERS-BRAITHWAITE

  95. Bill says:

    Unfortunately I grew up in an era where men especially were not supposed to have “feelings.” If you cried you were a “sissy” (never figured out what the literal translation of the word was). You were expected to live up to other’s expectations, not yours. As a result a lot of us became addicted to one mind-altering chemical or another to ease the pain that developed over all those years of self-loathing. For myself living in this mind-altered state, I could not see outside myself and realize the real suffering of my fellow man, whether he or she was orphaned in some far-away corner of Africa or homeless on the streets of my home town. To my good fortune, my addiction brought me into a real relationship with God and through Him I found a way out. Now being aware of myself and the creation God made in me, I have in turn become aware of the plight of those around me and in our world. Dying was my greatest fear as a child and an adult. The mystery of death is the root of my fear. As a child I was afraid of what was going to happen next with my mother and father. Would I be ignored, criticized, beaten or praised? Now that I have gotten past most of the harm done by that environment, I am more aware and less afraid of the world I live in. I doubt the most hardened criminal, when faced with death, would dare be so arrogant. I live life with a daily reprieve from my addiction. I pray for those who suffer from illness, starvation, loneliness, abuse, and spiritual malady. For me, I have been fortunate and by the Grace of God not had to endure the suffering experienced by many. So my goal is to contribute to others less fortunate and share my experience, strength and hope to the suffering men, women, and children of this world.

    • Anonymous says:

      God bless you Bill, thank you for your words. I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease 5 years ago and have been forced to face my own mortality numerous times since then. Along the way I lost my faith, I thought that God had forgotten me. But through His grace, patience and love, like the prodigal son (daughter) I returned. I now live in the glory and ever presence of His love and mercy. I see life in a very different way to what I did before. My illness is now a blessing… I would not be the person I am today without it.

    • Joann says:

      Wow. Thank you for sharing that Bill.

  96. Wow – powerful stuff. My family recently rode our bikes from Alaska to Argentina for many of those exact reasons. My sons were growing up way too fast and I felt I was spend way too much time with other people’s kids (both my husband and I were teachers) and not enough time with our own sons. So we hopped on our bikes and spent three years pedaling to the ends of the world together!

    • Chelli McGraw Byrd says:

      INCREDIBLE way to share the world with your sons…and to teach them respect of the lives & beliefs of other cultures (which can easily be found right here in America…we transend acceptance of others through our unbiased sharing & through our unbiased sharing we transend acceptance of ourselves.) God bless you & yours. Have you thought of writing a book about this grand family adventure??

    • Jenlisse Louraa says:

      This is beautiful. It reminds me of a foreign film I saw years ago in Seattle.

  97. Ashley Kowalewski says:

    Five Ways of Living
    Have the courage to live a life true to you, not the life others expect.
    Don’t miss children’s youth and partner’s companionship by working too hard.
    Have the courage to express feelings don’t harbor bitter resentment.
    Put the effort in to stay in touch with friends.
    Happiness is a choice; be happier.

    • Charleen says:

      Ashley, while reading thru all these wonderful comments, i was waiting for someone to put the message of this blog into these positive words. As a caregiver, i hesitate to ask anyone at the end of their life what their regrets are. We all do the best we can with what we are given in life, and not all of our choices or decisions turn out to be the best, but we hardly have any way of knowing that upfront.
      What i prefer to find out and take note of, is what a dying person’s message is to the world; after all has been said and done in their life, what do they want the rest of the world to know, how do they want to be remembered, what thoughts, words, wisdom do they want to leave to us all who are left behind. This provides a more positive, peaceful, even humorous, thought-provoking rather than the negative, sad perspective of focusing on regrets.

  98. ScottMC says:

    Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  99. Thomas Paine says:

    Science has a perfectly good answer for the “mystery” of death, but most people don’t want to hear it. Human consciousness depends on a functioning human brain. When the old squash rots, that’s it. There is nothing after death.

  100. jeff says:

    for many, happiness is not a choice…if people had the power to just decide to be happy, depression would not be such an issue…u are oversimplifying with a statement like that.

  101. This can be a real eye-opener. It was very well thought to ask those who are near the end about their opinions in regards to how they lived their lives. A lesson to everyone, independently of age. Thanks for sharing that 🙂

  102. czaldy says:

    I came across this blog serendipitously, the content is profoundly moving and it ricochet through my inner sanctum. I may not be dying at the moment but is horrified to harbor such fear. Thank you for sharing!

  103. Siddharth says:

    Death I think is the deepest mystery anyone has yet to decipher.
    Really scientifically no one has been able to know what lies beyond.
    What one does here and now during this life is the most important.
    Whether good or bad should be underlying factor, hard work or lack
    of it will leave behind their own trail. So first live life happily for yourself
    and for others feel no regrets. there are enough means and technological
    means available to live a healthy and contributory life. So celebrate life
    itself. That is what everyone will remember to you by and the rest having
    passed on – never wrote back to us ! Those alive should at least alleviate
    physical and mental pain of people around us in poverty, riches, power or
    without it.

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