The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware

I stumbled onto this book in 2012 when it was first published by Hay House. I could feel from the title that it was something I should read. Since that time, I have recommended it over and over. It contains essential wisdom that most of us overlook despite its simplicity.

Bronnie Ware’s writing started in 2009 when she posted an online article called “Regrets of the Dying” about her time as a palliative caregiver. As she worked with people who were dying, she was able to have deep and honest conversations with them about life and death. They often talked about what they would have done differently. These conversations and the relationships she developed with her clients had a profound effect on her. At the urging of several of them, Bronnie shared the wisdom and insights she had learned through her online post, and it spread like wildfire. The book is the result of many requests for her to tell her story and share its message.

So, what are The Top Five Regrets of the Dying?

Regret #1: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Regret #2: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

Regret #3: I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Regret #4: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Regret #5: I wish I had let myself be happier.

I don’t know about you, but when I first saw this list, I became very quiet inside. These are simple sentences, but they pack a powerful punch straight to the heart. These regrets caused me to stop, really stop, and take a hard look at my life. And what I found was that all five regrets fit some portion of my life — past and present. Ouch!

Even today, I remembered that I hadn’t talked to a friend in a while. This friend has asked me on several occasions to go to lunch, but our busy schedules haven’t clicked. She finally gave up asking. For some reason, this morning I was thinking of her. I reached out via text and discovered she was moving. I had caught her right before she left. Now, I don’t feel that is a coincidence; in my book, a “coincidence” is Life interacting with you in real time, which is the only place Life exists. Needless to say, we now have a lunch meeting scheduled. It was a near miss and a near loss.

“Life is short,” as the saying goes, but I really feel if we engage on a deeper level with ourselves and all the beings who cross our paths, then our lives become richer and more meaningful. We get to expand our experience here. Today I am making a commitment to learn from the dying by living authentically, playing more, sharing my true feelings, connecting with my friends on a regular basis, and making joy a top priority. I want no regrets when it’s my time to die.

I write more stories like this one every few weeks. If you’re interested, you can receive them by email when I publish them by signing up here.