The biggest regrets of the dying

Posted: 08/05/2018

The biggest regrets of the dying

There are popular sayings that are often used to encourage us to do things that we may be otherwise hesitant about: ‘you regret the things you didn’t do’ or ‘forget regret or life is yours to miss’.  It is something many of us live by, deciding to go on that trip to travel across the world, take that job we aren’t sure of, or to tell someone how we really feel even if the idea of it is completely nerve-racking. However, ultimately, it is hard to live a life without any regrets at all. At some point in all our lives, it is likely we will feel somehow disappointed about a particular decision we have made. A time for reflection can often be when a person is dying, having the time to look back on the life they lived, and what they may have done differently. Here at Perfect Funeral Plans, we decided to take a look at the most frequently expressed regrets of the dying. Perhaps it may change your current perspective on things.

Regretting working so hard

According to a palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware, who wrote in her phenomenally successful book about patients regrets the ‘Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’ she said that every male patient she had cared for had expressed their regret at working so hard. This was for a number of reasons, such as meaning that they didn’t have as much time to be able to spend with their partners, or being able to see their children grow up properly, missing important milestones in their lives. There was also the fact that many felt that long hours over an extensive period of time also contributed to ill health.

If you feel this rings a bell for you, don’t leave it until its too late to change your situation. Decide on what it is ultimately most important in your life, and then takes steps to be able to improve your relationships with those you are closest to be able to spend more time with them.

Not pursuing dreams and aspirations


One of the top 5 regrets of the dying always includes not pursuing one’s dreams.

Settling for what other people surrounding them expect them to do is an often mentioned as people’s number one regret in life. The feeling of unreached goals leaves many people dissatisfied with the rest of their lives. This is why it is extremely important to do whatever you can to be able to pursue your dreams, whether this means changing your career path completely and going back to school, deciding to move abroad, or receiving less pay: it will be worth it in the long run, if this regret is anything to go by.

Sharing your feelings more

It is commonly said that people regret not having the courage to express how they really felt about people around them. Whether this was not telling someone ‘I love you’ potentially out of the fear of being rejected by them, or perhaps repressing angry emotions felt about another, as they were worried about the possibility of making things worse.

If you find yourself frequently not saying how you really feel, you should focus time on reconsidering if this is making you feel better or worse. Is it worth spending the rest of your life possibly thinking about how your life could have otherwise turned out if you had said what you really felt? Furthermore, continuously repressing strong emotions can end up making you ill, manifesting itself in physical maladies.

Staying in touch with people


Keeping in contact with friends is good for your mental health.

A big regret of the dying tends to revolve around not keeping in contact with friends or family. It can be easy to get wrapped up in the daily routine of work, eating and sleeping, but with social media now making it easier than ever to keep in touch with people that would otherwise be difficult to do, take advantage of it! Email that old friend for coffee for a catch-up, arrange that reunion with school friends, don’t have this listed as one of your regrets too!

Not having children


Kids aren’t for everyone, but for many, they express regret at not having children at all on their deathbed.


Making the decision as to whether you will have children or not is one of life’s biggest choices. For some, the decision of deciding to not have them can end up being a regrettable one for different reasons, such as not being able to leave a legacy behind for a family member, or missing the experience of bringing up a child.

Not resolving conflicts

Deathbeds often lead to a time of reflecting on old relationships we have had, and for a large number of people, not putting things right with friends or family ends up becoming a regret, meaning they may have then spent years not being in contact with that person. If you can, you should always try to right any wrongs with people that are important to you, and ask yourself whether being right is going to make you happy. Choosing to forgive someone can help to give you peace of mind that holding onto anger may not.

Realising happiness is a choice

Things happen in our lives which can end up to periods of time where we feel self-pity, or, we get stuck in a rut of believing that things will never get better, and bad things always happen to us. However, it is important to remember that being happy is, in fact, a choice – and this is a frequently expressed regret of those who are now at a point where it is too late to change things. This is why you should relax, and appreciate all the good things you have going in your life, and realise that you have control as to what happens to you: you decide how you play the cards that are dealt to you, and no-one else.