Bronnie Ware worked as a palliative carer and witnessed many individuals in their last few weeks, days and moments, and in 2009 she collected her observations of these moments and compiled them into a blog called “Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”. This became so popular that in 2012, after 8 million views, she turned it into a book – one which inspires and moves, uplifts and saddens. Because, at the end of our lives, most of us tend to wish mostly for more time in one form or another: more time with loved ones, enjoying favourite pursuits, more opportunities to do things that are true to themselves. They don’t wish for more money, or more success. It’s a valuable insight. Let’s delve further.
No. 5 Regret of the Dying:
I Wish That I Had Let Myself Be Happier.
My gosh, who can relate to this one? How many of us sadly feel the need to tone ourselves down, in so many different ways, for other people? Be it for loved ones, or for total strangers, we are constantly editing, censoring, suppressing our true expressions of self.
This regret to me says: WEAR THAT LOUD OUTFIT! DANCE IN THE STREET! TAKE THOSE SINGING LESSONS! Do whatever your heart wants you to do, but you’re too afraid to because of: judgement, scorn, condemnation, ridicule. Life is simply and truly too short to not be happy.
No. 4 Regret of the Dying: I Wish I Had Stayed In Touch With My Friends.
I think this applies so much as we get older. When we are young and socialising often, we seem to have people around us all the time.
But, as life happens, people pair off, drift away, settle down, move countries or states and it’s all too easy to let friendships fall away.
This regret is powerful as it shows that true connections with people who care about us are rare, and should be nurtured. Regretting not keeping those relationships alive means that these dying people miss those connections.
Friendships take effort, and life can get in the way, but a phone call or get together a few times a year can be enough to sustain them. Make that call, make the effort, nurture that relationship while you still have the time.
No. 3 Regret of the Dying: I Wish I’d Had the Courage To Express My Feelings.
As per No. 5, suppressing our true selves can be so detrimental to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Not telling someone you loved them, not accepting an opportunity out of fear of letting others down, not having hard conversations with loved ones or simply not speaking up in important moments = regrets.
We need to always be our truest and most authentic selves. This doesn’t mean trampling on others, quite the contrary: speaking our truth can be liberating for all involved, even if you can’t foresee that in the moment.
It’s impossible to know how our message will be received, in fact, often it can go the complete opposite way to how we think! Speak UP, speak LOUD and say it UNAPOLOGETICALLY.
No. 2 Regret of the Dying: I Wish I Hadn’t Worked So Hard.
AMEN. What are we busting our butts for?? Of course, we all are working for the same, honourable reasons: to provide a home, food and care for ourselves and families. But, sacrificing time with those precious to us is simply not worth it. Listen to this message: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard!! Doesn’t mean you can’t work smarter, doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, it just means slow down, smell the roses, enjoy life. While you still can.
No. 1 Regret of the Dying:
I Wish I’d Had the Courage To Live A Life True To Me, Not What Others Expected Of Me.
Now again, this is similar to numbers 3 and 5 = being true to yourself. The pressures put upon us by society, family, work, friends, community etc can be overwhelming, and you may find yourself in a life, a career, or on a path that you didn’t consciously choose for yourself. You may feel stuck. You may feel it’s too late. Spoiler: it’s not! It’s never too late to create positive change for yourself.
If you are unhappy, remember this message. Many, many people have died with this as their number one regret – living an inauthentic life. Speak and life your truth, I beg you. Those people who judge you, who set those unrealistic expectations, will not be at your deathbed. They will not die in your place. It’s up to you to choose your own path, but take note from the dying and dig deep to find the courage to make it your very own.