No regrets? What regrets can you finally put to bed before you die?

Sadly, most of us die with regrets about how we spent our lives, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can do something about it – reach out to a friend or family member to patch up past differences or explore things you wish you’d tried when you were younger.

The following five regrets feature in a book written by Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, who documented the common regrets of people preparing to die.

If they resonate with you, do something about it.

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. As the end of life approaches, it can be confronting to realise how many dreams remain unfulfilled. Maybe there’s still time to make a change …

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

The feeling that special moments of family time have been lost because of a slavish adherence to work is a common regret.

Many men (and some women) discussed this regret. If you’re retired, the good news is that you have the gift of time now, so make sure you spend some of it wisely with your adult children or grandchildren to leave lasting memories.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings

Many people said they suppressed their feelings to keep the peace with other people around them. But the result of that choice was a life of compromise that stopped them from becoming who they really wanted to be. Bitterness and regret can make you stressed and sick, so it’s always healthier to let it go and live the life that makes you happy (as long as it’s not hurting others).

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

In many of the stories Bronnie Ware shares in her book, regrets about friendships loved and lost were a recurring theme. And when people facing their final weeks of life wanted to focus on people they loved and care about, thinking about old friends was very common.

 5. I wish I had let myself be happier

Many people do not realise that happiness is a choice – until it’s too late.

Instead, many of those interviewed lived lives stuck in old patterns and grumpy, bad habits. Being afraid of change had stopped them from doing things they truly would have enjoyed. Simply wishing they’d had more silliness in their life, instead of being so serious, was a common regret.

Bronnie Ware’s book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, is a memoir of her own life and how it was transformed by paying attention to the regrets of the dying people she cared for.

Is there something you’re determined to do before you die? What’s your biggest regret? Or, if you already live a life of no regrets, how do you manage it? Share your stories in the comments below.

Read more: Nine top travel regrets of adventurous people over 70

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday
Claire is an accomplished journalist who has written for leading magazines and newspapers, such as The Sunday Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Women's Weekly, Marie Claire, Rolling Stone, Australian House & Garden, GQ, The Australian, Herald Sun, The Weekly Review, and The Independent on Sunday (UK).
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