elderly man on death bed, surrounded by family
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
May 29, 2024 ·  4 min read

This is the No. 1 Life Regret of Dying Patients According to a Psychology Expert

Bronnie Ware, an in-home caregiver, has looked after plenty of people in the final stages of life. Being aware of their diminishing mortality, Ware’s clients will share their deepest life regret with her. Their reflections became the foundation of her book, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying,” a sobering compilation of her gatherings from those at the end of their journey.1

The most common regret expressed by her patients was: “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” This regret underscores a universal truth of the human existence—the importance of authenticity and self-fulfillment. As Ware eloquently writes, “It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way before it is too late”. This is a sentiment also echoed by psychologists, we must try to live a life that aligns with one’s true self.

The Importance of Valuing Time

red sand hourglass
Credit: Pixabay

In our daily hustle and bustle, it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters. The pursuit of validation can often lead us away our true selves, desires, and passions. According to Ware, knowing there are a finite number of days here can help alter our priorities. When faced with mortality, the concerns of social media and material possessions pale compared to the desire for a meaningful existence.

This perspective shift forces us to take a good, hard look at how we use our time. For example, if we’re confronted with a serious health scare, the importance of maintaining a high-achieving image goes away pretty quickly. So why don’t we share the same perspective? We’re all going to die eventually. We should focus more on personal fulfillment and relationships. This realization can help us avoid having a life regret like Ware’s clients and allow us to live a more intentional and authentic life.

Read More: Nurse Places Dying Newborn next To Her Twin, Ends up Giving Her a Hug That Saves Her Life

Living Life Regret-Free

stressed out M&M figurine
Credit: Pixabay

To avoid regret, living according to one’s true values and goals is important. This means regularly reflecting on current regrets and mentalities and taking proactive steps to address them. For example, if you regret not spending enough time with your family, make a conscious effort to be more present and spend more time with your family (crazy, I know).

We must seize opportunities for personal growth and adventure; they won’t come find us. It’s easy to succumb to the comfort of the familiar, but taking risks and pursuing dreams, although challenging, can lead to a more fulfilling life. The only difference between now and the end of your life is what you choose to do.

Embracing the Present

Present wording inside of Magnifier glass on blue background for focus current situation , positive thinking mindset concept.
Source: Shutterstock

A practical approach to living without life regret includes having gratitude and presence of mind every day in whatever you do. One might start saying goodbye to loved ones each day as if it might be the last time you see them, demonstrating an appreciation for time spent together. This practice can help foster a deeper connection with others and truly reinforces the importance of valuing each moment. You never know the last time you’ll see anyone or do anything. You could have done something for the last time in your life already. 

Read More: After being told to ‘soldier on’ through postpartum breast changes, mom is dying of breast cancer

Life Regret vs. Authentic Living

relaxed woman leaning back
Credit: Pexels

Ultimately, the key is to embrace authenticity and courage in your life. Being true to yourself requires a deep understanding of your own personal values and being committed enough to honor them despite any external pressures that come (and they will). This journey isn’t always easy, but it is necessary for achieving fulfillment and peace.

Psychologists often encourage patients to regularly check in and assess how their lives are going and to make any adjustments if what they see doesn’t align with what they want to do. This process has caused many to lead lives reflecting their deepest desires and avoid the pain of unmet dreams or having a serious life regret at the end.


man with no regrets tattoo on his arm
Credit: Pixabay

Bronnie Ware’s chronicles of her dying patients are a powerful lesson in the importance of living authentically. If you value your time, address any current life regret(s), and foster a sense of gratitude, you can create a life that aligns with who you really are and avoid the life regret of not living fully.


Read More: Young, Physically Health Woman Decided to be Euthanized Despite Fear of Dying