The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

When it comes down to it, can you say you've lived a life free of regret? Read on to learn what people facing their own mortality would've changed.
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Some of us are brave enough to live the life we want to; we take risks, spend plenty of time with our loved ones, explore the world, and remain true to ourselves no matter what. Most of us, though, aren’t so fortunate. We live our lives with inhibitions, we tell ourselves we’ll do things we never get around to doing, we create bucket lists we never complete, and then suddenly we’re saying goodbye to our family and friends for the last time, realising we haven’t achieved everything we hoped to.

So, we’ve done some digging to uncover the top five most insightful regrets of the dying. Why? Because we want you to know what others have regretted, so you can dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s before the inevitable happens.

Here’s what we found.

I wish I had worked less, and not worked as hard.

This is a common regret mentioned by dying men of the older generation. We spend so much of our time at work – whether we work for ourselves, or for others – so we can fund a lifestyle we likely won’t ever be able to enjoy (because we’re working so much, of course). If you’re finding yourself spending every second of free time focussing on work; or if you’re heading home late every night so you don’t fall behind on your neverending workload? It might be time to prioritise what truly matters to you. And chances are, that means finding time to live, not just work.

I wish I’d had the courage to live a more authentic life that felt true to who I was/am.

While we hate to admit it, we spend a lot of our time attempting to live up to the expectations of those around us. Whether we buy clothes, furniture, cars or jewellery that depict an image we think others will be impressed by, or we alter the way we behave according to the people we’re spending time with, chances are we aren’t 100% ourselves 100% of the time. And that’s totally normal – our environment shapes who we are and the way we behave – but many of the dying regret not being brave enough to challenge the status quo or swim against the current.

I wish I’d stayed in touch with all my friends.

In today’s fast-paced day and age, it’s harder than ever to stay in touch with every friend and family member you’ve ever adored. But what we’re learning from the dying, is that you need those special people surrounding you in your final weeks, months and years. Maintaining friendships is the cure to loneliness, especially when your friends will likely be ageing and experiencing the same health hurdles as you, as you age. Life might feel busy right now, but making time to see and speak to the people that matter is important. You’ll regret not upholding those relationships as you age.

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

Ahh, don’t we all? An important message from the dying is: Tell everyone how you feel. Always. Honesty is key, and allows you to live a full, truthful, meaningful and authentic life. If you love someone – tell them. If someone has done wrong by you – approach them kindly and do whatever you can to move forward with them. Suppressing emotions can be a huge burden. Don’t spend your life carrying that burden, it’s so not worth it.

I wish I’d realised that happiness is a choice. I could’ve made myself happier.

Sounds depressing, doesn’t it? But it also sounds a little optimistic. Turns out, we can choose to be happy, even when not-so-happy things happen to us or the people around us. Mindset is important, and it’s up to us to choose how we perceive different situations. And even more so than that – it’s important to make time for silliness, for laughter, for not taking life too seriously. It’s important, and makes a big difference to our happiness as we age.

Wrap up

In summary, the dying regret not living their lives a little more authentically, and not seeking out happiness and fun in their everyday lives. So, if you’re looking for ways to improve your quality of life and find yourself feeling satisfied during your final days, keep this list handy, and do whatever you can to ensure you mitigate these regrets, whenever you can.

One regret we can help you avoid is that of not getting your affairs in order. Writing your legal Will allows you to make your wishes known, making it a little easier for those that remain. Start today at

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