As we journey through life, it’s natural to reflect on the things we’ve accomplished and the paths we’ve taken. But as we get closer to the end of our lives, it’s also common to have moments of regret. Regrets about the things we wished we’d done differently, the opportunities we let slip by, and the relationships we wished were stronger.
Based on the experiences of hospice workers and those who have been through the end-of-life process, there are 10 common regrets of the dying that seem to arise time and time again. These regrets range from not following our passions, to neglecting relationships, to not speaking our truth. While they can be tough to contemplate, they can also serve as powerful lessons for living a life without regrets.
In this post, we’ll explore each of these 10 common regrets of the dying, along with some simple practical tips to remedy them. Whether you’re just starting out on your journey, or well into your life’s journey, it’s never too late to make changes that bring you closer to a life lived with purpose and joy.
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
You often feel regret at the end of your life when you’ve spent years trying to please others instead of pursuing your passions and desires. Society’s expectations, peer pressure, and a fear of failure can all lead you to feel like you haven’t lived a life that’s true to yourself.
- Write down your values, beliefs and goals. Evaluate your life against these things and make adjustments to align with what’s important to you.
- Surround yourself with supportive people who encourage you to live a life true to yourself.
- Take small steps towards living a life that feels authentic to you. This can be as simple as saying yes to invitations that align with your interests, or taking up a new hobby that you’ve always wanted to try.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
For some, work takes over their lives, causing them to ignore their personal relationships, health, and overall well-being. As a result, you may feel regret at the end of your life, even if you’ve been successful in your career. This regret can come from a sense of emptiness, as well as from being physically and mentally exhausted from working long hours.
- Prioritize rest and leisure time in your schedule. This can include things like reading, going for walks, or simply taking time for yourself.
- Practice good self-care habits, like eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
- Evaluate what’s truly important to you and make changes to your work-life balance to align with these values.
“Work to live, don’t live to work.” – Unknown
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
When you hold back your feelings, whether it’s speaking up in a relationship or not expressing your true thoughts in a situation, you may feel sad and regretful. The fear of conflict or judgment can make you suppress your emotions, leaving you feeling unfulfilled in your relationships and in life.
- Practice self-reflection and identify your emotions.
- Consider therapy or counseling to help you work through your feelings and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
- Surround yourself with supportive people who will listen and validate your feelings.
“Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes.” – Maggie Kuhn
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
Life can be busy, and it’s easy for you to lose touch with friends over the years. But when you look back, you may regret not making an effort to stay in contact with important people in your life. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and a sense of missed opportunities.
- Make a list of friends you’d like to reconnect with and reach out to them.
- Make an effort to stay in touch with friends by scheduling regular check-ins or outings.
- Consider joining a club, group or community that aligns with your interests to make new friends.
“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” – Bernard Meltzer.
I wish that I had let myself be happier
When you focus on your responsibilities and what’s expected of you, rather than your own happiness, you may feel unhappy and dissatisfied. Not giving yourself the chance to pursue joy and fulfillment can make you regret not taking better care of your own well-being.
- Practice gratitude by taking time each day to reflect on what you’re thankful for.
- Surround yourself with positive and supportive people.
- Make time for activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama
I wish I’d had more courage to fight for what I wanted
Throughout your life, it’s common to give in to fear, doubt, and insecurity, causing you to compromise on your desires, goals, and aspirations. But when you look back on your life, you may realize that you missed out on opportunities and experiences that would have brought you joy and fulfillment.
- Cultivate a growth mindset, embrace challenges, and view failures as opportunities for growth.
- Build self-confidence and resilience by facing your fears, setting and achieving small goals, and celebrating your successes.
- Surround yourself with supportive individuals who encourage you to pursue your dreams and who believe in your potential.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
I wish I’d traveled more
You may look back and regret not taking advantage of opportunities to travel and see the world. This can be due to a fear of the unknown, financial constraints, or simply not making travel experiences a priority.
- Start planning your next trip, even if it’s just a small one.
- Create a travel bucket list and work towards ticking off items on the list.
- Consider trying new experiences, like traveling solo or visiting new cultures, to expand your horizons.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine
I wish I’d had the courage to tell people what I think
Throughout your life, you may hold back from speaking up and sharing what’s on your mind because you fear being judged or causing conflict. But as you reflect on your life, you may realize that it’s your own thoughts, feelings, and opinions that make you unique. Suppressing these parts of yourself only leads to unhappiness and regret.
- Practice self-reflection and identify your values, beliefs and opinions.
- Surround yourself with supportive people who will listen to what you have to say.
- Practice speaking up, even if it’s in small ways, like joining a conversation or sharing your thoughts in a meeting.
“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” – Elbert Hubbard.
I wish I’d had a better relationship with my family
Family relationships can be complex, and you may look back and regret not mending broken relationships or creating stronger bonds with family members. This regret can come from misunderstandings, conflicts, and not making enough effort to improve family dynamics.
- Identify specific areas in your relationship with your family that you’d like to improve and work on these.
- Practice forgiveness and let go of past grudges or misunderstandings.
- Make time for regular family gatherings or outings to strengthen your relationships.
“The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.” – Charles Kuralt
I wish I’d have had more time with my loved ones
If you’ve lost a loved one, you may feel regret about not spending more time with them. This regret of the dying can come from a sense of missed opportunities, as well as from not expressing your love and gratitude for them often enough.
- Prioritize spending quality time with loved ones, whether that’s through regular catch-ups, date nights, or shared activities.
- Practice gratitude by acknowledging the important people in your life and expressing appreciation for them.
- Make memories with loved ones by doing things you enjoy together, like traveling, trying new experiences, or something as simple as relaxing at home.
“Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet.” – Sarah Louise Delany
Moving forward with the knowledge of the ‘regrets of the dying’
It’s important to remember that it’s never too late to make changes and live a life without regrets. By reflecting on these common regrets of the dying and understanding the reasons behind them, we can learn to prioritize what truly matters and make proactive steps towards a fulfilling life. Whether it’s spending more time with loved ones, pursuing our passions, or standing up for what we believe in, each small step can lead to a life full of happiness and contentment.
So, let’s use these regrets of the dying as a reminder to live life to the fullest, to take risks, to love deeply, and to never take a single day for granted. The journey of life is precious and limited, so let’s make the most of it, and strive towards a life that we can look back on with pride and satisfaction.
And if you find this post helpful, please share it with your loved ones. Let’s spread the message of living life to the fullest and avoid these common regrets together.
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” – Francis Chan