Death Regrets

The top 5 deathbed regrets and how you can avoid them by taking action today

We usually talk about regrets regarding funeral costs and debt left to loved ones. These kind of regrets are usually felt, not by the deceased (maybe beyond the grave), but by the family members left with the enormous bill. We’re switching gears a little bit today, and looking at life and death in a more comprehensive way.

This post is based on a book written by Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse who has been present for the deaths of dozens of people. She accumulated the conversations she had with dying people in her memoir, The Top Five Regrets of Dying. Take a look with us at the regrets of those on their way out, and make some goals, like we did, about how to avoid these same regrets.

Living with Authenticity

So many people live lives that they think are expected of them. They make decisions based on how they will be perceived by others, they are afraid to shed light on parts of themselves that are not as polished as other parts. Social and familial pressure are real and looming in everyone’s lives in some way or another. After reading this section of the book, we reflected on our childhood dreams and how we present ourselves to the world. Authenticity and vulnerability go hand and hand, and being vulnerable to others is often intimidating and uncomfortable. Our advice: compare how you see yourself and how others see you. Where is the disconnect? What parts of yourself are you afraid to reveal? How can you be more authentic with those you love?

Work Time

According to Ware, this is the most common regret among men—that they spent too much time working and not enough time with family, relaxing, and enjoying life. It is so easy in this day and age to need more money, more stuff, and therefore more hours at the office. So many people voice this regret as they pass away, that maybe we should all take a look at the figurative pie chart of our time and see what portion is being used working ourselves to the bone. What is most important to you? Does your time allotment match your priorities?

Emotional Honesty

A quote from Ware’s memoir, “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.” We don’t want to regret things we have said or didn’t say when we are dying, so we have made a list of goals and relationships we want to more honestly address now so we don’t have this problem in the future. Who comes to mind when you think about emotional honesty? What have you always wanted to say to someone that you’ve been keeping to yourself? And importantly: will those words bring you peace and joy, or are they vengeful and mean?

To learn more about the other top regrets of dying, check out Bronnie Ware’s best-selling memoir, The Top Five Regrets of Dying.

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