Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Regrets of the dying

An email I received  containing such an important message for all to heed.

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 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. 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.

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
-Frederick Koenig

6 Responses to Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Regrets of the dying

  1. rangewriter says:

    These wishes are really the essence of life, aren’t they? Thanks for sharing. I would repost this, with your permission….? Everyone should read it and think about what it means.

    Hi, these are the essence of life, no question. Please feel free to repost as you wish. That is what I did, receiving it in an email.

  2. Noel says:

    Wow! This is an awesome post! So uplifting! This is a wake up call for all of us to enjoy this life more, before it is too late. Thank you so much. God bless.

  3. Mel says:



    Seriously–love, relationships and choosing happiness.

    I’m with ’em!

    (and donning a patch and parrot for Talk Like A Pirate Day.)


    JUST sayin’.

  4. Cat says:

    It’s funny that I read this today, especially that quote at the very end. Earlier today I was explaining to someone how my life completely changed the day I decided to stop being sad about what I didn’t have and start being happy about what I did have. It took me awhile to get there, but it was just like turning on a light switch when I finally did.

  5. Laura says:

    I just love that you posted this. I loved reading it.
    With your permission I would very much like to post it on my blog (with full credit and link to your blog of course). I just really feel that this is important for people to see.
    I also applaud you for speaking about a very real and unavoidable topic.
    Thank you! Many blessings of health, love, peace, happiness and light.

    Hi Laura, thank you for stopping by. Feel free to use the post in anyway you like. I can’t claim credit for it, I but copied it from an email I received.

  6. Larry Ades says:

    Good Morning Bill,
    I was reminded that I was to touch base with you. Hope you have a great day with purpose and vision. For it has been said that we perish without a vision. So I pray that God will make it clear to you what his purpose and calling on your life is. Now that I know how easy it is to post a reply, I will attempt to do it as the LORD leads
    Larry( Your neighbour the grass cutter)

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