6 Regrets of the Dying

“End the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take…”     – Lewis Carroll

Nurses, palliative staff and caregivers frequently sit with the dying at the end of their lives. They hear it all. They patently listen through touching stories, great achievements and even some pretty heavy regrets.

Here are the top 6 regrets of the dying:


1) I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself.

The number 1 regret heard is that people weren’t brave enough to reach for the stars. “I wish I had given myself the chance to pursue my dreams. Too often I did what I thought others wanted/needed me to do.”

There is always time. Start working towards your dreams, with one goal at a time.

2) I wish I had worked less.

Dedicating yourself to your job is great, but you must have a healthy balance. The number two regret of the dying is spending too much time with work and not enough time with family.

You cannot get time back, and that knowledge is bitter sweet. It’s so easy to get caught up in a busy life. Take the time to breathe, take a step back, and get together with your loved ones.

3) I wish I had expressed my feelings more.

Not saying “ I Love You” enough, and not being able to express feelings in general, are the 3rd most popular regret in life. For a healthier well-being for yourself and in maintaining a strong relationship with a significant other, it’s always best to not hold back your feelings.

Don’t let being afraid hold you back. It is always worth the risk to make your love known, than to spend the rest of your life thinking of what could have been.

4) I wish I had stayed connected to my friends.

Studies show that as the years go by, men, specifically, lose close, once strong, friendships. Many deeply regret not giving “golden” friendships enough effort to survive long term. “Everyone misses their friends when they are dying,” making this a very common regret in ones final days.  

You must really work at a relationship, or it all too easily can fall apart. Reach out to a old friend today!

5) I wish I had let myself be happier.

This is surprisingly the 5th most common regret of the dying. Easily following habits and staying in the comfort zone were often mistaken for happiness, learning late that they weren’t truly happy. Fear of change was also noted as a culprit. 

Remember, happiness is always a choice. Sometimes it takes wisdom and age to realize that happiness is something that you can allow yourself to feel, no matter the circumstance.

6) I wish I had resolved my conflicts with the people that care.

Holding a grudge is a bad habit for so many reasons, and it proved true as our 6th most common regret of the dying. Broken relationships are always painful, and only amplified in the days before and after the death of a loved one. 

Conflicts are a part of life. Once you learn to control your anger and accept conflict as it come, the happier you will be. Easiest advice, choose to forgive.


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