Now we’re older and retired, we do take stock of our lives and our choices from time to time.  I find this an insightful article (although I am not convinced by all of it).

Top five regrets of the dying article;
How are we doing?

“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 3 to 12 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

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 honored 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.”


20 thoughts on “TOP FIVE REGRETS

  1. I can really understand all of those points. As we grow older and/or possibly fall into ill health, it enables us to take stock of our lives and focus on what is really important. Some people grow from the experience, but some are unable to and begin to complain about their lives to anyone who will listen. I have met both types and wondered why some are able to take the positive from their lives and others focus mainly on the negatives. Is it upbringing, genes or something else?
    As we reach the end of our lives, can we feel satisfied that it has been a life well lived ?
    A good post Gilly and quite thought provoking xxx


  2. Very moving. There was a German author who wrote a book about this topic. This book was translated into English. Here is the link: .
    I used to work as an auxiliary nurse in an old people’s home in Cologne when I was 19. There I encountered dying people. Somebody recommended this book to me.
    Unfortunately, you cannot turn the clock back and family needs have to be met. But you always have to relflect: Do we need these gadgets? Is it worth it?

    Then you live automatically a simpler yet happier life.


    1. It’s anti-bullying week Maria, and I’m thinking again, as I always think – why on earth don’t kids just shut down their twitter and facebook – thus depriving their enemies of online bullying? I don’t get it!


      1. It is because they want to be the “Top of the Pops”. It is all about status quo and nothing else. Bullies can only thrive because the affected kids would not tell a reponsible adult about it. The moment they tell about their experiences the bully has no impact any more. But the bully could be also a victim. It is a very sensitive issue.


  3. How interesting! There is a lot to think about here, I always think it’s so sad to have regrets….I’m doing ok on most of those, now MUST make more time for friends…..if only we could fit more hours into the day….sighs….there is NEVER enough time is there?xxx


  4. life is not perfect , of course there are dreams unsettled or unachieved, but these regrets are minor to regrets like : I did not do good for my country or I spent my life in wicked and didn’t obey God.


  5. I suspect most people – growing older – and facing their final journey – can/will identify with some if not alll of these…There may be variations of some kind, but essentially these will be around. :yes:
    However, we will always find those who find it awkward to acknowledge this sort of ‘if only’. 🙄
    Hugs! x


      1. I’m thinking and reflecting now. Most of our kids are here in the Wellington area. One daughter and two grandsons in Christchurch(200 miles away) and one grandson in Australia. He’s back at Christmas for the first time in a couple of years. So will be able to see and communicate with the family now. Retirement helps this.


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