Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years caring for the dying patients in the last 3 to 12 weeks of their lives. She listened and talked to them to relieve their suffering, offer support and help them prepare for their impending death.
It turns out that people grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. They gain this phenomenal clarity of vision and lucidity about what is really important in life. All the patients experienced a variety of emotions, such as denial, anger, fear and acceptance.
As Bronnie says, "Every single patient found their peace before they departed, every one of them."
On the basis of the interviews she had with the patients, she wrote the book "The Top Five Regrets of The Dying". It gives the common themes that surfaced when the patients were questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently.
Here are the most common 5 things we regret before we die, as witnessed by Bronnie Ware:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
It is astounding how many people live their lives according to the expectations of others, neglecting their own needs and desires. Take back control over your life. You are the captain of your ship. The most important person in your life is you, so upon any decision it’s good to think about your needs in the first place.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
This came from practically every male patient. From the point of view of an individual trying to get by in this world, work and money are the primary topics nowadays, but when you give it a closer look, you start to see that there are dozens of ways you can simplify your life (and spend less) or plan your career wisely (and work more effectively to earn more) .
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Hiding our emotions throws us into constant compromises and deprives us of the chance to live our lives to the fullest. We pretend to be someone we are not and suppress what we really feel. This creates internal conflicts and emotional blockages. Being honest with yourself and with others is definitely the best way to live a full and happy life.
I wasn't really surprised that position is on the list "5 things we regret before we die". Were you?
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
This regret is strongly related to the one about working too hard. not having time to meet friends, people don’t give friendships the time and effort. It is easy to forget about them, and after some time it is difficult to come back to them. Make sure you give your relationships the time and effort they deserve so that you stay close to the people who feel like home to you.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
When lying on their deathbed, people get to realize that happiness is really a matter of choice. It is very often the case that we don’t allow ourselves to be happy, usually by setting the bar too high and holding onto outsized expectations of both ourselves and our lives.
In addition to the most common 5 things we regret before we die, it is worth reflecting on what did not get on the list. Bronnie Ware wouldn’t hear anything like the following:
- I wish I’d made more money,
- I wish I was more famous,
- I wish I dated more girls/guys,
- I wish I had made a better career.
The way I see it, the contemporary world has quite seriously misplaced our values. Let this article and these 5 things we regret before we die, be a guideline to you, so that you don’t have to share these most common regrets that people have in the final weeks of their lives.
And finally, here’s a timeless and invariably thought-provoking quote from a visionary who is no longer with us:
“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. ”