Nurse Reveals the Top 5 Regrets People Make on Their Deathbed

Nurse Reveals the Top 5 Regrets People Make on Their Deathbed

(originally written 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 learnt 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 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 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.

source: inspirationandchai

  • eetom

    I wish I know my expiry date. I wish to attend the funerals of all my enemies but not all those of my friends. Before I die I want to say a sincere sorry to all my creditors.

  • kitchenguy

    I’d want to modify #2 to “I wish I’d worked smarter”. Too many of the people who work(ed) hard still haven’t enough to enjoy their lives after work. Would hate to encourage laziness…

    • Dzengis Agic

      Encourage laziness, to whom????? You r about to die man!!!

      • t

        So you could spell every word properly, but when it comes to ‘are’ you’re too lazy to spell it properly?

        • Bubba

          Oh get a life !

        • Dzengis Agic

          i spell what i want to spell, when i want to spell it and how ever i want to spell it…you little punk, probably 12 years old child when you get stuck on that…btw. it doesnt matter how you spell it as long you try your best and you get understood when english is not your(in this case my) first language

  • Ali Shaheed

    Most infidel homoqueers’ biggest regrets are that they weren’t born as powerful Arabic Muslims and that they weren’t such raging faggots.

  • Samson

    hello- that might be true but that might not be true- different races might be from different locations and protected managed by different higher beings- You are wrong to impose your ideas on others Cathys daughter-

    • micko

      You guys do it all the time…. it’s called help but if someone from elsewhere it’s impose……. And why would you not go for the better vision of we are all in it together and not the violent vision of there are different gods for different parts…. So you can fight of course

  • Wrongagain2

    I wish I had never sold that car.

    • Wrongagain2

      1956 chevy 210 sedan

  • FakeOne Dust

    Mine would be, “I wish these nurses would stop writing down everything I’m saying….”

    • Senior dingdong

      …or touching me inappropriately underneath my blanket

  • some guy

    I seriously questioned myself many years ago…What is the purpose of life? i been blessed with a beautiful wife, wealth, and children.. but none of these blessings will avail me after i die. We all shall taste death ive come to accept this now than rather my deathbed.. Life filled with Regrets? Do you what comes before and after you? Dont we all wish our lives were picture perfect, and went according to our plan… The hardships and success we taste in this life is temporary. I only find contentment in my heart in the remembrance of my creator. i know whatever i leave behind will find a new owner and time will dry up my love ones eyes and memories will fade away. Spend your days on this earth as if you will be brought back to life again from nothing and be questioned for what you use to do

  • gene

    I wish I retired at 35.

  • Eb

    I work at a busy cemetery and crematorium. I’m the only person who meets with families after their loved one has passed to design the headstone and memorial. I meet with an average of 20 families per week, and I listen to each one talk about their loved one while emotionally vulnerable and do my best to be supportive to do a very difficult thing. I hear the regrets from those remaining everyday. I might die with my own regrets, but I will certainly try to ensure my loved ones don’t have regrets about me.

  • Stormchaser Onne

    #1 I wish I believed in GOD and Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior. Been to many death beds.

  • Mark A. Cole

    Those words I live by Cathy’s daughter. Live a simple life and you won’t have regrets later.

  • Tim Hoffman

    This made me sad

  • Balur

    Wow that was the most cliche filled article I’ve ever read.

  • andersm0

    My father encouraged all of us to take risks and to make our own wishes come true. He thought there was nothing sadder than being old and looking back on a life lived too small because you were afraid of failure.

  • jason

    Cathy I know what you mean. My best friend passed away few months ago. She was such a beautiful human being.her service was filled with people and outside. This is the first post I have ever placed a comment on.

  • Tone Corleone

    Hopefully your eyes are oped to the truth before you pass on, nothing worse than a lost soul in hell

  • LordCortex

    “I wish I kept up with the Jones.” wasn’t one of them? I’m shocked.

  • heenan73

    Pure fiction; lies, in fact.
    Made up by some 20-something intern on her coffee braek.
    Clue: Most people who have the luxury of dying in bed, rather than wrapped around a traffic sign, are old: old people have long left behind this kind of sentimental hogwash. I worked much of my life with folk with cancer, and I don’t remember one who who talked such utter tripe. Not one.