The last 12 weeks (what you think when you’re going to die)

Bronnie Ware is a nurse who spent many years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog, which later became a book called, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
Here are the 5 regrets:
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.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

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

“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. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

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

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. 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.

“This is a surprisingly common one. 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.”

Do you have a regret from the journey of life that you have lived so far? Does it or will it have an impact on your life going forward in terms of what is important to you or how you want to live or be in the world?

(Photo by Darla Winn)

Latest Comments

  1. Puddleglum says:

    I’ve heard #2 “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard and spent more time with friends & family” in a lot of sermons. Unfortunately I can’t relate. Maybe if you didn’t come out of an abusive family and have friends who weren’t quick to cut you down it would be different. But for me work is a distraction from people who only hurt you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I want to live free from my abusive spouse of almost 19years so desperately and yet fear overwhelms me every time. Fear of being a single mom, fear of not making it financially, fear of judgment from my “Christian community”, fear because I still love the father of my children deeply and yet somewhere deep inside I feel His Spirit gently holding me and leading me to freedom. I have hope that one day I will find the courage and strength to be free.

    • jimpalmer1 says:

      Maybe loving the father of your children is no longer tolerating his abuse or terminating the relationship. Easier said than done, I know. But I also know that women every day make this difficult choice. There is support out there for women just like you. There is some useful information here.

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