Friday, 27 April 2012

Lessons learned from the dying

Ask anyone how they would prefer to die, and the answer always comes back, “Peacefully, in my sleep.”
Bronnie Ware shares the lessons she has learned
from of working with the dying in her new book
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

No one knows this more than Bronnie Ware. After many years spent working in palliative care, tending to the needs of the dying, she was moved enough to share her experiences in a blog called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

The article became an internet phenomenon, and was read by more than three million people around the globe in its first year. So many requests flooded in from people wanting to know more about her experiences, that she has put them together in a personal story called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.
The author, who has also had a fairly colourful and diverse past herself, shows that it is possible for all of us, if we make the right choices, to die with peace of mind. In this book, she highlights the impact of these regrets and shows how we can positively address these issues while we still have the time.

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Bronnie Ware:
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 realize 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. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it."

2.   I wish I hadn't worked 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."

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."

4.   I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
"Often they would not truly realize 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."

5.   I wish that I had let myself be happier.
"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize 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."

If ever there was a rallying call to “Seize the day", then it's here in this book.


  1. I am happy to say that at the moment I do not relate to any of these regrets, except maybe loosing touch with friends. I hope this stays the same as I grow older and have more responsibilities

  2. Good for you, Natasha. Sometimes it's easier to just go with the flow and, before you know it, another decade has passed. I think the message in Bronnie Ware's book is to get off the hamster wheel and live life to the full.

  3. We all say that we wish we didn't work so hard, yet how many people would keep their jobs if they slacked off? The more I think about it, the more I think that working full time on site is completely antithetical to actually enjoying life. It hasn't been easy going freelance, but I'm so much happier now that I'm not expected to stick around an office just so upper management can look at me.


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