Ware’s ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying’

By Amy Taylor on February 08, 2012

Many people spend their whole life working too much just to buy a beautiful house, arrange a luxury holiday, and give their family all the pleasures that the world brings. They invest time and efforts to achieve these things to the extent of leaving their loved ones, sacrificing their health, and taking friendships for granted. Sadly, these achievements turned to be the reasons why many people die full of regrets even if they seemed to have lived a ‘good’ life.

Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in the palliative care and counselling dying patients tried to uncover the most common regrets of the dying. On her book entitled ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying’, she gave us some insights and inspiration on how we can live our life to the fullest yet regret nothing in the end.

1.       Living the Life They Have Wanted

When people realise that their life is almost over, they would start thinking about the things that they should have done in the past. Some people feel sad about the fact that they have spent years living the life that others expected them to be and not living the life they have dreamed for themselves. Some make choices based on what their family and friends deemed best for them even if these choices don’t give them enough happiness. As mentioned by Ware on her book, health gives people the freedom but only a few realise its importance until they no longer have it.

2.       Working Too Hard

Some of the women that Ware has nursed regret about working too hard during the days they were still young and capable. But among the patients, this regret is much more common on men who are usually the breadwinners of the family. All of the men she has nursed regretted of being slaves of their work and not being able to spend splendid moments with their wives and children.

3.       Being Able to Express their Feelings

Based on Ware’s observation, many people develop illnesses because of the bitterness and resentment they carry for so many years. Some are forced to hide their feelings just to maintain peace with other people. Because of this, they are no longer able to express what they truly feel, holding back the ‘persons’ they are capable of becoming.

4.       Keeping in Touch with Friends

Ware said that everyone misses their friends when they’re dying. Many people lose track of their friends the moment they start working and making their own families. Most of the time, they would not realise the importance of keeping in touch with friends until they’ve come to face the fact that they will be dying soon. They would regret not being able to make happier moments and stronger relationship with friends. 

5.       Choosing to be Happier

A popular saying goes this way: ‘happiness is a choice’. However, many people don’t realise it until they are about to die. Ware pointed out that people tend to stay within their comfort zones. Because of the ‘fear of change’ many choose to pretend and show the world they are contented and happy about things as they are when in fact – they longed to laugh and have some silliness in their lives. 

The book makes us realise that our remaining days gives us all the opportunities of living the life we wanted. We only have one life and leaving this world without any regret at all gives us peace and happiness within.

What’s the biggest regret do you have in your life right now? And if you could change one thing in your life, what would it be and how would you change it before you die?

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