Top 5 regrets of the dying

Top 5 regrets of the dying

A long time ago I heard about the story of Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who used to work as a palliative carer. After several years attending to her patients thoughts and feelings on their deathbed, she noticed a pattern and wrote the best selling book “Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”.

The common themes that often surfaced were:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

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

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

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Her message stroke a chord in me. Possibly because I was exposed to death in the family quite early. I lost my grandma when I was 5 and my father, to cancer, when I was 17. But more importantly, I think I was moved by her message because back then I wouldn’t have been able to nail that “check-list”. Since then I have made good progress towards preventing regret #1 and regret #3 however, ironically, I still need to work harder on regret #2!

I believe the beauty of such reflection is that it give us a new outlook in life and catapult us to live more fully and truly. Let alone the encouragement to contemplate on our legacy.

Not surprisingly, after becoming a best seller author, Bronnie has moved on from her nursing career and now helps people to live a REGRET-FREE life, using her words.

Talking about death is still a taboo for most people in the West. As Sogyal Rinpoche mentioned in his “Tibetan book of Living & Dying” we are either terrified by death or in denial of death, which is ironic given it is the only thing we are certain about it in this life.

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There are exceptions though. A while ago The School of Life, founded by the British contemporary philosopher Allan de Button, used to run workshops to explore the topic of death including a visit to the cemetery. Morbid? Perhaps a little.

So just in case you are wondering…. Nope. I don’t have picnics on graveyards neither encourage my friends or clients to do so. However, if I may, I would like to invite you to select one of the 5 regrets that might need your attention and suggest you make a commitment to work on its prevention over the next year.

If you accept the challenge, I would LOVE to hear from you in some stage.

Happy living!

To learn more:

  1. Visit Bronnie Ware site –
  2. Watch this 2 min video from The School of Life –
  3. Listen to The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying –

#reflection #mindfulness #purpose #courage #legacy #focus

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