Top Five Regrets of the Dying

This Guardian article must have been written by a nasty atheist, because there’s no mention of all those people who must have said “I wish I’d spent more time in church.”

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

If you don’t want to read the short article, the Top Five Regrets are:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

The unwritten part is just this: If you don’t want to share these regrets as your approach your own end, have the courage to …

Be true to your own values and desires.
Do some things just for fun.
Express yourself.
Stay in touch.
Let yourself be happy.

Today, Easter Sunday, when so many are going to church, for all their various reasons, I was out enjoying this:

This is just a little nothing-special creek near Schenectady, one of the many places I used to hike with Tito the Mighty Hunter. I do love the sound, the sparkle, the cool fresh smell of running water in the outdoors.

I hope y0u did something equally fun, interesting, and you-ish.

Beta Culture: Being Grownups on Planet Earth
Thoughts on “Privilege”
Zoning Out on Liberal vs. Conservative Issues
Assholes and the Umbrella of Safety
  • geocatherder

    All creeks are special. Some run with water, trickling or coursing, and can soothe you; some run wild with too much water, and can overwhelm you or your property. But all deposit sediment, an evolutionary tale of where they were sourced, and a valley-building process of what will yet become. Meanwhile they act as riparian microenvironments for the benefit of many species.

    Karen, who loves the sound of creeks, and is also a sedimentologist by training…

  • ‘Tis Himself

    I wish I had let myself be happier.

    This is the one I’ll probably say on my deathbed.

  • machintelligence

    Mine would probably be: I wish I could see how all of this is going to turn out. I’m pretty optimistic about the future, and the ability of the human race to muddle through, but once in a while I have my doubts.

  • magistramarla

    I know what my biggest regret is right now:
    I wish that we would have moved out of Texas before the two youngest girls grew up and got involved with redneck, right-wing religious bigots.
    I know that you lived there Hank, and that there are some intelligent people in Texas, but my daughters didn’t manage to find them.

    • Hank Fox

      Truth is, I talk to very few of my old friends back there, for the same reason.

      I have one friend who emails me the vilest, dumbest Christian/right wing shit about 3 times a week. For instance:

      Did you know that if you sell your house after 2012 you will pay a 3.8% sales tax on it? That’s $3,800 on a $100,000 home, etc.

      When did this happen? It’s in the health care bill and goes into effect in 2013. Why 2013? Could it be to come to light AFTER the 2012 elections?

      So, this is “change you can believe in”?

      Under the new health care bill all real estate transactions will be subject to a 3.8% Sales Tax. If you sell a $400,000 home, there will be a $15,200 tax.

      This bill is set to screw the retiring generation who often downsize their homes. Does this make your November and 2012 vote more important?

      I emailed her back an excerpt from a Christian Science Monitor article:

      Myth buster: There is no health care tax on most home sales

      Umm, no it won’t. Yes, the health law will impose a 3.8 percent tax on investment profits and other non-wage income starting in 2013. But that tax applies only to couples with adjusted gross income of $250,000 (or individuals with AGI of $200,000). About 95 percent of households make less than that, and will be exempt from the law no matter what.

      In addition, couples who sell a personal residence can exclude the first $500,000 in profit from tax ($250,000 for singles). That would be profit from a home sale, not proceeds. So a couple that bought a house for $100,000 and sold it for $599,000 would owe no tax, even under the health law.

      If that couple had AGI in excess of $250,000 and made a profit of $500,010, it would owe the new tax. On ten bucks. That would be an extra 38 cents.

      The Tax Policy Center figures that in 2013 about 0.2 percent of households with cash income of $100,000-$200,000 would pay any additional tax under this provision. And they’d pay, on average, an extra $235. Keep in mind that is added tax on all sources of non-wage income, not just home sales.

      If this one runs true to form, I will hear nothing back from her for a while, then the brainless Christian/right wing crap will start up again.

      She will never admit being mistaken about the thing, and I certainly doubt she forwarded MY email to all the people she sent the original piece to.

      Heh. I talked to her some months back, and she seemed slightly put out that, though she emails me constantly, she never hears back from me. What I carefully didn’t say was “You NEVER email me. You send me stuff that other people say, and attach not one single personal word. I don’t know how you’re doing, how your husband is doing, how your dogs are doing, nothing. Ever. Since I’m not hearing FROM you, I’m not replying TO you.”

  • Johnny Vector

    Well yeah, yesterday I was mostly working, from 8:30 to about 8:30. But we took a 3 hour break to go to a picnic under the cherry blossoms. Which I also saw two weeks ago in Maryland. So, double cherry blossoms for me this year. And anyway the work is for science, and they pay me well enough for it, so file it in the “fun” column.

    My big regret is unrelated: Taking way too long to find the right spouse. But I have now, and between the two of us we almost always remember to have fun. Even when I’m here and she’s there.


  • BecomingJulie

    This Guardian article must have been written by a nasty atheist

    Quite unsurprising. The Guardian is a British newspaper, and the majority of Britons are functionally agnostic. Someone who went to Church at both Christmas and Easter would be considered the type of freak you cross the street to avoid.

    It’s more than just no guns and free medicine!

  • Boz Haug

    I know what it’s going to be for me. #1 regret – wish I had spent more time with my kids. I spend a ton of time with them already, every spare moment I have I spend with them, but I just know I’m going to wish I could have given them 75% of my time rather than giving it to the necessities of working and life maintenance.

  • Brownian

    Let yourself be happy.

    Me and a few million other people who suffer from depression would love to hear more about this is to be achieved.

  • Desert Son, OM

    Fuck. I’ve got four out of five top regrets right now.

    Still learning. I hope. Doesn’t feel like it today,


  • Mike zanie


    Why would not going to church ever be a regret? Many God fearing people. Dislike the church for various reasons. Does not make them atheists. God is found only in a church? Also, the writer merely documents what people regret on their death beds and unbiasedly reports it.

    Are you a Religious nut.? Or just nucking futs?

  • Spirit Animal

    Hello, you used to write excellent, but the last few posts have been kinda boring… I miss your great writings. Past several posts are just a bit out of track! come on!

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