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The 5 Biggest Dying Regrets

Last updated by on 8 Comments

I came across a very inspiring post from a former palliative nurse named Bronnie who worked closely with patients in their last 3 to 12 weeks of life to comfort them. The post is titled “Regrets of the Dying“. And I just had to share it.

The wisdom shared by her patients in their final moments, and then by Bronnie, are priceless. They can serve as a guide on not how to embrace death, but how to live life while you have the opportunity.

To summarize, here are the 5 most common regrets of the dying, according to Bronnie:

1. “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

dying regretsThis was the most common regret people had. And it makes sense. We only live one life and if you’re not living it true to yourself, it seems like a great missed opportunity. This is something that I have slowly been coming to grips with over the years. Still have a long ways to go though…

2. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”

Bronnie said that she heard this from every male patient she worked with. Today, we are all overworked. If you love what you do, this might not be a regret. But most people do not. And when you’re in those final moments of life looking back, I can imagine that your view of the pursuit of income through work that was not satisfying to you might seem like a misuse of precious time.

I love Bronnie’s follow-up advice: “By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.”

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

Suppressing feelings to keep peace often led to bigger problems, including health issues.

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

In the end, all that matters is love and relationships.

5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

Most realized that happiness was always a choice. And they did not permit themselves to be happy.

Added Thoughts

Why raise this topic at all on a personal finance blog? Because the two biggest regrets that Bronnie mentioned are very closely related to personal finance.

Having the courage to follow your own passions and not placing such an emphasis on income for the sake of income are very closely related and both are tied to the hip with personal finance.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: the pursuit of money is empty unless it buys you the freedom of time and experiences. A bigger bank account, nicer car, and bigger home mean nothing when you are slaving away 80 hours a week or on your deathbed.

Thanks for the reminder, Bronnie.

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Jared says:

    The goal is to work at a job you love. Then you won’t regret your work life. Money and free time do not need to be mutually exclusive.

  • Justin @ MoneyIsTheRoot says:

    Inspirational post. I mean moving up the corporate ladder has been a goal of mine from the start, so I wouldnt say that would necessarily be slaving away. At the same time, I do worry about being caught up in work too much and missing out on some other things in life…good to think about!

  • Ron Ablang says:

    Some people work hard early on in life to sacrifice whether it be to save up to put their kids through college or to set themselves up w/ a nice 401k and early retirement.

  • Joe says:

    Far, far too many people get caught up in their “things” instead of the people in their lives. Especially now when we eat dinner in front of the TV and have working lunches so often.

  • Lianne @ The Wise Living says:

    Thank you for this reminder. Everyone needs to be reminded that living the life we love is a choice.

  • jim says:

    All I can say is “God Bless America”!!! You’ll never find another country that invites so many diverse opinions. You’ll also never find another country that makes these dreams/possibilities come true.

    In spite of political differences, every real American comes down on the side of FREEDOM – and that comes in many, many different forms.

    If you’ve got a choice on how to reach your goals, you’re living in America. And you sure as heck ain’t living in some socialist/fascist country that really doesn’t allow you to make a choice.

    And for those of you reading this that just can’t comprehend it – read a frickin history book or two.

    • the other jim says:

      We must be soulmates or bros or something ’cause I thought I was the one who coined the phrase, “read a frickin history book or two”!!!!! LOL – couldn’t agree with you more.

      Wish I could “like” your comment about a gazillion times.

      the other jim

  • Beth says:

    One phrase never heard at a funeral:
    “He should have spent more time at the office.”


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