The Five Biggest Regrets of Dying People

I recently read an article by Scott Pape, the “Barefoot Investor”, who had written about research by an Aussie Nurse, Bronnie Ware, who spent years as a palliative nurse.

Bronnie worked caring for people in the final weeks of their life and recorded their dying epiphanies on a blog which later became a book.

Reading this article coincided with the anniversary of my Pop’s passing 13 years ago from cancer. He was a hero to me and was someone I really looked up to and idolised. He was a very wise man who imparted a great deal of wisdom to me in his last couple of months but it has taken me until now (and after reading this article) to really get what he told me.

So, I am going to share the five biggest regrets of dying people that Bronnie came across in her work, caring for people in their final weeks so that you can take her learnings on board and use them to improve your life.


1. “ I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life expected of me.”

We all get one shot at this life, so we shouldn’t spend it wasting time on things that don’t make us happy, or activities that are not aligned with what is important to us. Bronnie stated that “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”.

2. “ I wish I hadn’t worked as hard.”

You spend the majority of your day and week at work. If you are doing something that you don’t enjoy, or even worse something you hate, get out of there! If you can spend your days doing something that you love and are passionate about, it will change your life. It won’t only have an impact on your happiness at work but your overall happiness.

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

This point relates to your family and friends but also your work relationships. Don’t be afraid to be yourself in all your relationships and to go after what you really want in life.

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

Personally, I think that this point also relates to your family as well as your friends. Looking back on your life I am sure at the end, it’s not the dollars in your bank account that you will look back on and cherish but the time and experiences spent with those that you care about. Everyone is busy these days but you need to make time for those you care about. Bronnie says “often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks”.

5. “ I wish I had let myself be happier.”

Bronnie states that “this is a surprisingly common one, many didn’t realise until the end of their life that happiness is a choice”. My take on that is to focus on all the good things in your life and attract more positive experiences.

Or you can focus on all the bad things in your life and attract more negative experiences. Either way, it’s a choice and one you are in control of and one you can change.

The life lessons that Bronnie has put together in her book and that are summarised above are priceless.

Most of these lessons can take a lifetime to learn. Most people learn too late.

I hope by sharing these with you, they teach you to live in the moment, enjoy every day and push you to go out and live the life you want!


Author: Ryan Porter

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Disclaimer: Information contained within this article is of a general nature. Do not be rely upon it when making financial decisions. Please consult a professional financial advisor or planner (like us!) before acting.