Relationships 6 min read

3 Life-Changing Lessons From the Dying

by Madilyn Smith March 25, 2020

If today was your last, would you have any regrets?

Would you wish you’d gone after that dream job? Would you have gone skydiving? Would you live a life of endless adventure and excitement?

Surprisingly, in the final moments of life many of the experiences we see as “living the life” don’t seem to matter all that much.

In her book ‘Top 5 Regrets of the Dying,’ Australian nurse Bronnie Ware found that at the end of their lives, the wishes of her terminal patients were incredibly simple.

In the following video, we highlighted the three most common regrets of people on their final days. Here’s what they would change if they could do it all over again…

I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

It almost goes without saying that some of the most common regrets across the board were words left unsaid and truths left untold. 

In their last days, Dr. Ware’s patients admitted they regret the times they bit their tongues or omitted their true feelings for fear of rocking the boat or facing rejection.

They swapped their peace of mind for pleasantries and beat themselves up for not staying true to who they are and realizing their full potential. 

They carried the heavy burden of resentment from living an inauthentic life and their health greatly suffered as a result.  

Looking back, they finally understood that speaking their truth at the risk of upsetting others was far more valuable than people-pleasing.

While it may hurt to tell someone what they don’t want to hear or sacrifice your image, not realizing your full potential cuts much deeper. 

And at last, they found that the truth takes healthy and worthwhile relationships to new heights and connections that can’t withstand honesty are never really a loss at all. 

I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

Life Wishes

Every single one of her male patients told Bronnie that investing too much time in their work was one of their greatest regrets in life. 

They wished they spent less time in the office and more time with their loved ones.

From monumental first moments with their children missed losing precious time with their partners, so at the end of their life, a high salary all of a sudden didn’t seem so significant.

They realized that the endless climb up the career ladder wasn’t nearly as important as cherished connections with the people they love. 

In the end, material wealth and prestigious titles didn’t nearly match up to the loss of beloved quality time. 

And they believe if they had just simplified their lifestyle and invested more of their energy into friends and family than they would’ve lived a more happy, fulfilling life.

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

The most common regret of all were dreams left unfulfilled. 

Whether it be a job you trudge through every day for the paycheck or staying with a partner you no longer love to keep up appearances… 

These are all symptoms of living a life for others. 

The vast majority of Ware’s patients found that they hadn’t achieved even half of the dreams they had set out for their lives. 

And in their last days, they came to terms with the harsh fact that the choices they made or didn’t make determined it all. 

They saw that they weren’t a victim of circumstance and any final outcomes of their lives were chosen consciously or unconsciously.

But sadly most didn’t realize the importance of pursuing their passions until they lost their health, and at that point, it was too late.

The ‘aha moment’ almost all patients came to in their last days was that you should honor and appreciate your health while you have it and you owe it to yourself to fearlessly chase your dreams because the only real failure is not trying at all. 

In the end, what really matters?

When they were lying on their deathbed looking over their lives, they discovered that the things we obsess and agonize over really just don’t matter that much.

We feel devastated by rejection, getting fired, or failure in any sense of the word.

We see heartbreaks as failures and lost friendships as wasted time.  

We worry about how others view us, what they say about us, and what all of that may mean about us.

We check the meaning or purpose of life to be this grandiose concept when really it’s all very simple.

You’re here to love, be loved, and above all live a life that’s true to who you are deep down. 

And the only thing you have to fear isn’t death, but a life lived inauthentically.

Share this with someone you believe needs to hear this. Let’s start living authentically.

by Madilyn Smith
Madilyn is a former travel, entertainment, and lifestyle writer for the women's empowerment publication ENTITY Mag in Los Angeles and the digital media platform StarsInsider in Lisbon, Portugal. She tells her own personal growth journey traveling solo across 5 continents on her blog The Wanderess Chronicles. To put it simply, she's just a girl trying to change the world one powerful story at a time.

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