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Embracing the lessons of the dying

Recently I came across the book- The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing by Bronnie Ware.

From its humble beginnings as a simple blog post, the ‘regrets’ list has triggered responses and discussions from thousands of people worldwide.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share with you an outline of Bronnie’s list and explore ideas on how we might be able to embrace those lessons.

Here is the first Regret as it appears in the book:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Bronnie speaks of the clarity to ‘look back on their lives’ that people commonly experience when they are dying. It’s as if all the mundane stuff of life is swept out of the way; the importance of day to day concerns no longer a priority, leaving the underlying meaningful stuff of life to ponder and get on with.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

The main question I would like to raise, is how can we, as healthy living beings, truly embrace the lessons of those faced with their death.

I’ve often heard the suggestion, “Imagine you’re told you have a few months to live. What would you change, do, wish for….etc?”

For most of us it takes more than imagination to be moved into action; to change a life time of habit that may be contrary to what we hope for ourselves.

As a person not facing imminent death, that I am aware of, I act and behave in a way that considers all sorts of future consequences : If I do this what will it mean to so and so, or how will affect my chances for the future, or what will happen etc.

If I really was told I was dying I would still be concerned with future consequences but in a very different way. I would be much more concerned with what kind of legacy I left by my past and present actions. I would probably be much less concerned by trivial day-to-day matters.

So can we learn from the lessons of the dying? Can we, as living beings, oblivious of our personal expiry dates, truly embrace our mortality so that we might live more fulfilling lives? I think it’s possible. I’m certain that special individuals are already doing so. At the very least I think it’s worth some interesting and exciting exploration.

So lets look at some ideas together over the next few weeks.

If you have any thoughts on the subject I would love to hear from you.

There are many paths and many opinions on this subject. All have their place and will hold truth for different people.


  1. […] this question of you, and myself, I have just recognised that I have in fact followed on from last weeks theme after all! If you haven’t already go back and have a look at regret number one of the […]


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