Regrets Of The Dying (Updated)

Regrets Of The Dying (Updated)

Oct 21



“It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.”



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By Bronnie Ware

Original Link

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:


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 realise 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.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.


2. I wish I didn’t work 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.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.


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.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.


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

Often they would not truly realise 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.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.


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

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise 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.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.


Based on this article, Bronnie has now released a full-length book, titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.




For near-death experiences that echo the concerns expressed in this article, visit these links:

• NDE Articles on Pulse
• Pulse on NDEs
• How Near-Death Experiences Are Changing The World
• The Formula for Creating Heaven on Earth
• The Light & The Life Review (v4.4)
• The Essence of Near-Death Experiences (In 8.5 Minutes)
• Powerful, Life-Changing Near-Death Experience Quotes
• When Loved Ones & Friends Pass From This World To The Next
• NDE Stories
• NHNE’s Collection of NDE Testimonials – Archive One
• NHNE’s Collection of NDE Testimonials – Archive Two
NDEs Featured on NHNE’s Main NDE Network
• Historical & Cross-Cultural Near-Death Experiences
• Celebrity Near-Death Experiences
• NDEs & Hell
• NDEs NOT Caused by Malfunctioning Brains
• NDE Take-Aways
• The Mustard Seed Venture – NewHeaveNewEarth Community Center
• NHNE NDE Social Network
• NHNE NDE on Facebook
• NHNE NDE on Google+
• NHNE NDE on Twitter
• NHNE NDE Bookstore


“I have never interviewed anyone who had a near-death experience who told me that they came back to make more money or to spend more time at their jobs away from their families… Instead, they become convinced that they need to be more loving and kind. They react to their experience by living life to its fullest. They believe their lives have a purpose, even if that purpose is obscure to them. Invariably it involves concepts such as love of family or service to others. They seem to know that the love they create while living will be reflected and radiated back to them when they die.”

— Melvin Morse, M.D., from his book, Parting Visions



  1. Clint Summer

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

    Yes, this is what we must be committed to – with ourselves and each other – to support each of us in being totally true to ourselves, if we want to live and die without this regret.

    This includes support in being deeply in touch with our truth on all levels.

  2. Dave Allen

    After years of being who I thought I was expected to be I stopped. In my late fifties I came out. So did my lover and he and I started a life together. Our worlds did not fall apart as we had always feared. Everyone who loved us before still loves us today. Life became so free I felt I had solved all of my life problems and feared I might just be ready to move on. Then I was diagnosed with cancer. My trip through cancer has been one I would not wish on anyone but would not miss myself. I have learned so much and am taking more good memories than bad from. Today I am living free. Free of cancer and free of a lot of the hangups that held me down, free to laugh and enjoy life and the friends and family I love.

  3. Thanks for sharing Clint and Dave. And Dave, three cheers for you! A lot of people are viewing this page right now and I’m sure your story will inspire everyone who reads it!

  4. joy

    I did face death replete with last rites and healing ceremony at 13th hour for 13 min. I’d been in the hospital 13 days giving up ready to pass over and join the angels of love. With this many friends and colleagues were contacted via a friend to gather either in meditation or to appear. At the 13th hour for 13 min. the minister suggested all pray, hands on healing, chant etc to breathe the breath of lyfe into my BEing. She leaned into me in and out of consciousness and asked do you have any regrets, is there anything you wished you’d done, any amends you want to resolve–I was told I shared no, never finished my book, my dissertation, and no regrets it’s time to go! Then she shared if you live, what do you want to do–without any hesitation I stated in front of all, my not knowing GO to Italy, eat and drink what I want and savor my heritage…I added to fly a plane. I went home the very next afternoon, that was now 10 years ago and to date no Italy nothing, lost the business because of money but my loving kindness keeps me counseling those with cancer and the troops on line.

  5. What truth and wisdom! If every person awakened this way by facing their mortality, the world would be more genuine, love-based existence, rather than the greed and fear that has gripped our planet for millenia. Every soul has a purpose, and it is not about walking the treadmill of work and getting more “stuff”. It is about expressing your unique energy and expanding your compassion for self and others. Let’s all wake up before we run out of life, yes?

  6. Edi Bland

    For a handful of different reasons that have only recently become clear to me, this might be one of the most relevant-to-my-life articles I’ve read…period. I will make sure everyone I care about reads this as well. Thank you.

  7. How very sad for all of the commentors. The common missing ingredient seems to be the absence of an abiding faith as Christ as their Savior. Without that, there is nothing lasting. The Lord has a plan for each of His own and His perfect plan for us will govern our lives. God bless you all!

    • Mimi

      And how very sad for you that you are pinning all your hopes on an afterlife, which just might be the product of a fantasy that stops people from accepting the end. Life is now- live it. Find your peace and joy on earth because it is very possible, likely even, that you won’t get a second chance.

    • Jerad

      I seem to be coming very late to this party based on how long ago these comments posted.
      My response to you Phil, although you may never read it, is why would you limit someone else’s faith after reading any of these NDE’s?
      I have been a Christian most of my life. Grew up going to church, fell away and returned. Throughout all of it I always felt like I wasn’t quite getting the whole truth. There was always pieces missing and questions left to circular reasoning.
      When I found this website, by accident I might add, the pieces of the puzzle felt like they started to fall into place. I’m very thankful for those who have experienced the other side of the veil and had the courage to share what they’ve heard and seen. And I think you may have missed some things while reading through some of these NDE’s. And you know what, that’s ok. We are all on different paths and growing spiritually at different rates. Your personal journey is not mine, and mine is not your’s and yet we are all in this together.
      What I’ve learned through this great site and testimonies is that we ALL come from GOD, we ALL make up GOD, we ALL are GOD, and GOD is ALL of us.
      As Jesus spoke about being one with the father and yet they are separate, so too are we. Please don’t confuse the “religion” or “faith” of Jesus with the religion about Jesus i.e. Christianity.

  8. Trudy

    Phil, thank you for your comment. I was thinking the same thing as I began to read through the above comments. As we are approaching Christmas we are reminded of what God has done by sending His Son into the world so that we can have eternal life with Him when we leave this world. We are only passing through this one. It’s the one after this one, we will live in eternally. We don’t ever have to fear death if we know and except Christ as the Savior of our soul. He is the very essence of love. He is the perfect One who longs for relationship with us, and by being born into this world made a way for us to experience it. I agree, it does all come down to love and relationships at the end, just don’t leave out the most important relationship. Merry Christmas everyone!

  9. Vanessa

    You know, I do love my fellow Christian brothers and sisters; but I so wish that they would learn to stop trying to force their belief systems on other people. We think that we are so very right, and everyone else is so very wrong. In the end, believe it or not, it is not about religion. It’s about love, which transcends religion. And it is not about Christ, it’s about the love that Christ, Buddha, my mother, my brother, my sister, and every being on this planet, including the plants and animals, gave to us – in the end. We are all Christed beings, regardless of one’s religious preference; albeit many are still in a very, deep sleep. You don’t have to be a Christian to know God. You don’t even have to be affiliated with any particular religion to know God. So when people are in the midst of their transition homeward, just let them be. It is none of your business what thoughts they are transitioning through. It is not your experience.

  10. lauren moran

    Yet vanessa just shoved her very distorted opinion down everyone elses the end there is only one truth.One GOD.opinions cant change the truth.

    • Alice

      I wish you peace and love. I wish all the negative feelings you have to disappear in a wisp of wind.

    • Water_Sound

      And you did the same to her — when once I thought I’d die in Nevada and was about to shoot my dogs to keep them from a slower death (Malamutes don’t do well in Summertime Nevada) I came to the conclusion that I could ONLY but very simply rest my life with God — as a 3.5 tour Combat Corpsman in Nam, Many were saved, many died dispite my exceptional skill, and my ONLY regret was ONE USMC E3 that I did not over-amp on morphine because most of his liver was gone and he’d PROBABLY have died, and most all of us had a ‘suicide pact’ with our friends – if I’m going to be taken prisoner, and can’t lay fire, or am mortally wounded, don’t send in medivac (eg don’t make them risk their lives saving a dead man) — i’m wounded will probably die, just end it – and many times I did without remorse — with him, we were low on MS and my SGT would NOT give me his 45 and the pt cold not hold an M-16 to shoot himself – a LERP Army Sgt game me a flare gun and said: this will do the same thing — so I gave it to the E3 and he had us prop him up against a tree, and with his helmet against the tree, he put a flare into his chin. 6 minutes later the position was over-run and it was two days before we got to go back and get our dead, he’d had us put 2 MK2’s under him and he’d taken out 4 VC. Even in Death he did what most would never do in Life. My regret, that he had to go like he did, though it was faster and cleaner — like I say, any one who has seen Combat can do nothing but put their souls up for God to Judge, we have nothing to do with much o fit anyway except to protect others until they say don’t. I’ve done far more – and am VERY bright – bright enough to know that ever ‘good’ has a ‘bad’ and every ‘bad’ has a ‘good’. Figure it as you will — your end is not really more than wishes, none of which would GENERALLY change were to to live your life over, since we all the best we can with what we have at the time.

      • Dianna

        To Water Sound…
        Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice. Though I have not been in combat as you have, I understand your “suicide pacts” with your friends and fellow soldiers. Combat comes in many forms, be it the jungle of Vietnam, the sands of the middle east, the mean streets of our inner cities or the homes of abusive parents… I have also had the fortune to work in palliative care and have been invited to go on end of life journeys with others. A Blessing to be sure. Your final sentence said it all…”since we all do the best we can with what we have at the time”. Well said… regardless of religious affiliation, We must all do the best we can with what we have… if you have your religion, then use it… if you have your beliefs, then use them… but do the very best you can in this life with what you have.
        Again to you, Water Sound, Thank you.

  11. Friends, whatever our particular beliefs, religious affiliations, or even personal experiences might be, I think most of us can agree that it is important to treat one another kindly — and to make room in our hearts (and minds) for people who may see things differently than we do. In any case, that’s the rule on this website and one of my jobs as the administrator of this website is to be sure everyone who posts comments here plays nice. So please help me out. Others will be more likely to listen to what we have to say, if we treat them like we would like to be treated — with kindness and respect.

  12. inge deketelaere

    My dad died after a 2 years struggle with cancer. I am greatfull for those 2 years… because at the monent he got sick, I was doing 2 fulltime jobs and evening-scool 2 times a week. I am greatfull, because it made me realise… that some things in life… you just can´t buy… I was 24 when it happened, I am 41 now… it had a huge impact on my life… I started realising, that the only thing that really made me happy… was making other people feel happy or good… I have an enormous respect for people who take palliative care on their shoulders…. keep up the good work…

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