5 Regrets of the Dying

You only have one life to live — make the most out of it.


Life is short, and as cliché as it may sound, the reality is that you only have one life to live — make the most out of it. I think about this on a regular basis, and it’s a big part of the reason that I moved from NYC to France. Because I knew that in order to seize the day and be as happy as possible, it’s important to constantly reevaluate all aspects of life: where to live, work, who to be friends with, etc.

5 Regrets of the Dying

While many people live their life to the fullest, some don’t and regret it later – as told by those dying, who had many regrets according to a book The Top Regrets of the Dying,” by Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent most of her time in palliative (end of life) care and recorded the top five regrets of her terminal patients. Her list is as follows:

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

According to Bronnie, this was the most common regret she heard from those who passed away. She writes: “When people realize 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 honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

You’re the one who makes your life. Don’t let anyone else dictate what you should do since it’s your future. Honor your dreams. If you want to be an artist but your parents want you to be a doctor, follow what your heart because in the end, your happiness is what matters the most.

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Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 140 Comments

  1. Avatar of Tracy Anderson

    Tracy Anderson

    Did you ever have a day when you said to yourself: “I could die now, I am so happy I could die without any regrets”
    I did, and I wish this to you all.

    • Avatar of Sasha Smith

      Sasha Smith

      I’m happy to hear that you are happy. Since you’re happy, I wish you to have a long life. 🙂

  2. Avatar of Alexiane Verdito

    Alexiane Verdito

    I’ve learned that the most important thing in life is to understand that nothing is really a big deal, we’re just here for a lifetime, and that’s not much. We just need to understand how ephemeral we are. Then all your troubles will seem a lot easier to handle. And your decisions too.

  3. Avatar of Keena Cotton

    Keena Cotton

    Just hope that you live long enough to correct the mistakes that will cause regret before you die.

  4. Avatar of Wanda Lwis

    Wanda Lwis

    Love the people around you. Not showing them enough of that will always be a regret that’s irreversible. It takes a lot of time for someone to actually feel that the love is genuine.

  5. Avatar of Sydney Freign

    Sydney Freign

    Don’t consider things that you enjoyed once, regrets. Other people say something like they regret loving someone, or forgiving that someone. But at that certain point in your life, it wasn’t exactly something that you regret.

  6. Avatar of Pauline E.

    It was a little late when I realized that my life should have been led by my own passion. It was only until my 8-year-old daughter told me that she was happy to get good grades because it made me happy as well. I was like her when I was younger. My life had consisted of hoarding achievements and good grades because I wanted to please my parents. As I got older, I realized I was wrong. I have begun living my life that is controlled by the happiness of other people to the point that I could never be pleased with myself. Everything was not enough for me. I’m still trying to tell my daughter that her life should be led by things that she knows her heart desires, not by my approvals or personal joys.

  7. Avatar of Reign Abella

    Reign Abella

    At some point in our childhood, I bet most of us wanted to be doctors. All because they cured almost anything that hurt when we were kids. No one actually told us about how expensive med school was, nor how our parents didn’t even have money for college. Sometimes as much as we want to follow our dreams, reality kicks in and we’re left with mediocre dreams that our bank accounts could allow.

  8. Avatar of Tricia Marie

    Tricia Marie

    “Never stop trying to improve yourself.” while living a happy life.

  9. Avatar of Tiffany Johnson

    Tiffany Johnson

    #1 is the main problem of the younger generation. As adults or parents, we fear that our own discontent is something that our children can fix. There are times that we end up passing on to them our fears and frustrations. Let’s not forget that our children are different from us, that they probably see the world differently than ours and they can build their ladders to success differently. Let’s not manipulate the future for them.

  10. Avatar of Amaya Perch

    Amaya Perch

    There was a time when I asked my grandfather that is now 85, about his regrets. He was a chain-smoker, until his 70’s. He decided to “try” to stop because of health reasons. Occasionally he would still crave the taste of nicotine in his lungs, but in his 80’s that’s when the habit truly stopped because his lungs no longer function the same way it did before. Now, he’s constantly using an oxygen tank and could hardly move around without catching his breath. He now has about 6 grandchildren. His regret was mainly how he let himself be a slave to cigarettes, to the point that it was the addiction itself that triggered numerous of health conditions. As much as he wanted to spend more time with his grandchildren and watch them grow, that’s no longer possible.

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