Regrets of the Dying

This post was originally published on Inspiration and Chai. I hope this inspires you as much as it did me!

Bronnie Ware is a writer and songwriter from Australia who spent several years caring for dying people in their homes. She has recently released a full-length book titled ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing’. It is a memoir of her own life and how it was transformed through the regrets of the dying people she cared for.

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

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

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

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.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.


Why I’m Spiritual and not Religious

Spirituality ~~ Religion

Spirituality is inborn. Spiritual experiences are as natural to human beings as breathing.

Religion was created by humans to explain, contain, and stimulate spiritual experiences.

Spirituality is an experience within yourself, inexpressible and unforgettable.

Religion is other people telling you what that experience is supposed to be.

Spirituality holds that you and the Divine are One, inseparable. Thus, the purpose of spirituality is simply to fully remember this fundamental truth.

Religion claims that the Divine exists outside of you, and you are apart from it. Thus, the purpose of religion is then to make you acceptable to this outside judge.

Spirituality asserts that you are inherently perfect, whole, and lovable. You do not need to “heal” or change. Although you will be happier if you realise your perfection, which is what spirituality helps you do.

Religion asserts that humans are imperfect and/or ignorant, if not actively sinful and evil. Religion then aims to set you straight and guide you how to improve yourself.

Spirituality acknowledges that everyone’s spirituality is uncompromisingly unique; no one can say what another’s spiritual path could be.

Religion imposes one person’s spiritual experience upon others.

Spirituality aims for personal experience of the Divine, and an internal understanding of what you believe to be true.

Religion aims for acceptance of what other people have experienced and said to be true.

Spirituality is having a personal, intimate relationship with your Source.

Religion seeks a relationship with the Divine, but not union. Religion separates you from the Divine, while seeming to encourage closeness.

Spirituality is the seeking of union with the Divine.

Religion is the rules about the seeking.

Spirituality does not have rules. The most it offers is guidelines and spiritual practices that have helped others and are likely to benefit you.

Religion insists on its rules as absolute truths.

Spirituality is internally focused. What occurs is between you and the Divine, alone.

Religion is externally focused. The experience isn’t the focus, but whether you’re following the rules is.

Spirituality is talking to God yourself, and hearing the Divine’s response.

Religion puts an intermediary (priest) between you and the Divine. It is someone else interpreting the Divine for you.

In spirituality, morality is subject only to the approval of the Divine.

In religion, morality is dictated by obedience to an authoritarian rulebook (law).

The aim of spirituality is to create opportunities for direct experience of the Divine.

The aim of religion is to make you a cohesive, beneficial member of the congregation.

Spirituality is having a mature relationship with your Divine Source.

Religion is the toddler-version of spirituality: it is a stepping stone and guide toward spiritual union.

Spirituality is learning to be your own Sacred Chalice, your own container for Divine Energy.

Religion serves as a container for spirituality, for those who have found the real purpose of religion. For others, religion acts as a pseudo-spirituality, relieving them of the responsibility to actually live a spiritual life.

Spirituality insists that you can only KNOW what you have experienced for yourself.

Religion usually demands unquestioning obedience to dogma. You KNOW what you are told to know.

In spirituality, everyone has the potential to achieve the goal of full awakening, by whatever path is right for them.

In religion, the goal of personal “salvation” is achieved only by those who adhere to its beliefs and rules.

Spirituality is meant to serve the Divine, and by extension, all of life.

Religion is meant to serve spirituality, yet it is commonly twisted around to be exactly the opposite. Or worse, it serves the goals who seek control and “power.”

Spirituality champions personal power. It reminds us that true power can only be found within yourself, not in controlling people or events.

Religion confuses the basic issues of power and control. It tries to control others, rather than seeking to control self.

Spirituality seeks to liberate you from dependence in any form.

Religion keeps you dependent and spiritally immature . . . unless you perceive the spirituality beyond it.

For more information on the difference between religion and spirituality, please see the accurately named article: The Difference Between Religion and Spirituality.

The article above was reposted from the Wicca website. I recommend checking it out!

~You can get to know God for yourself. It will lead you to the realization that you are in fact “God’.



Religious people are afraid of going to hell. Spiritual people have already been there. ~ Les Brown

Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein

“For those ready to give up their addiction to suffering or who simply need to release the general malaise of a too-busy, too-shallow way of life, Spirit Junkie is a soothing balm for the soul. Gabrielle Bernstein is a brilliant shining guide for all who seek to have more love, more light, and more miracles in their lives” — Arielle Ford, author of The Soulmate Secret