Top five regrets of the dying


What would your biggest regret be if this were to be your last day of life?

With the very popular Mayan legend that has been spreading like wildfire that 21 December 2012 might very well be the day that the world ends, you have to admit that wondering how you’ve lived your life so far is an intriguing (but rather fruitless) thought.

In exactly 15 days, you may (probably not true, but let’s speculate for fun) be living your very last day on this planet. So if you will never live to see 22 December or beyond the year, would you be happy with the way you have lived your life? Are there absolutely no regrets? And how would you be spending the last day of your life? Who would be the one to hold your hand and pull you close in a loving embrace when the world ends? What would be your last thought?

Interestingly, earlier this year an article was published on The Guardian UK and drew widespread attention, largely because it speaks to our circumstances in life and illustrate how we are trapped to our jobs and why we no longer cherish the things that should be top on our list.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which was turned into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Here are three of the top five regrets that I can relate to:

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 honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“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.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“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.”

Thought-provoking, isn’t it?

What’s your greatest regret so far and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die? Or, more appropriately, before the world ends.

P/S: If the world did not end on 21 December, it might just be the kick-up-the-arse you need to begin a new era for the rest of your life. A brand new beginning.