Top Regrets of Dying People That Made Me Stop Second Guessing Everything

And Start Actually Living

Lea O


Photo by Idin Ebrahimi on Unsplash

You’re approved!

I was stuck staring at my phone in the toothpaste aisle of an under-renovations Target.

I didn’t expect approval or sincere enthusiasm, but here I was, sharing that weird moment with rows of Colgate.

I grew up with strict Evangelicalism, where my place as a woman was at home, raising babies and tending to my husband. Determined to break out of my predetermined fate, I still went to college and moved away (though I did get married).

The problem is, I don’t have any babies in my mid-thirties, and for the last twelve years, I’ve catered my life around my spouse and his career.

The bigger problem is I believed I was breaking the bounds of this predetermined fate.

And if you can’t relate to that, well, congratulations because you’re one of the lucky ones.

So, I’m going to Spain this summer for a writing retreat and workshop.

Last year I found a random book at a thrift shop called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. In case you’re wondering why I picked up this book, well — me too, but I’m glad I did because it changed the trajectory of my life (no gimmicky exaggeration).

In the book, Australian palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware compiles the top five regrets of her dying patients over the years. And I’ll warn you; they’re poignant, simple stunners.

Regret #1: I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Most people read that as “choosing to be happy,” but I don’t. The concept of choosing to be happy has become a self-help cliché, and it neglects many barriers like mental health, circumstance, and privilege.

I read this regret as living a life without rest, play, creativity, etc.

Regardless, what a lofty regret to have at the end of life.

Regret #2: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

In the book, Ware says many lose the opportunity to connect with friends over the years because they become caught…