The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

Author: Bronnie Ware

Assigned Reading Age: Young adult/Adult

Top 5 Regrets

Subjects: Death, Self-Development

Most of us know people who have passed away. How many of them have shared their regrets with us? What were some things they wished they had done in life? Specific things, not just being more 'good' and 'pious'. At the time of death, most people have a clarity of vision which the still- living do not have. Their perspective changes, and they gain a type of wisdom, which albeit is a little late for themselves. However, there is much for others to learn from it.

Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, cared for patients in the last weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying words in a blog called Inspiration and Chai. She has now published a book called The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.

Her books has many insights on life, as observed by those who are about to leave it. There is much to gain from them in the form of practical advice on how to make the most of life. Their regrets are what we should pay attention to, so we don’t have the same regrets on our deathbed.

Here are their thoughts, along with Ware’s observations:

  • “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.”
  • “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
  • “This came from every male patient I nursed.”
  • “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.”
  • “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
  • “Many had been so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years.” 
  • “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
  • “Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice.”

If death were to come just now, what 5 things would you wish you had done in life? It's an interesting question. Not just interesting, but life changing really. Realizing these possible regrets at the death-bed creates a sense of urgency to do them. We must learn form those before us, so we don't make the same mistakes. As Imam Ali (a) says: Fortunate is he who takes lesson from others, while unfortunate is he who fell victim to his desires