Before You Die….


…read this. A nurse who works with dying patients took some time to record the final wishes of those facing the end of their life.

Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying:

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

What strikes me most about this list is how unlike most of our “bucket lists” it is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for more traditional bucket lists. Figuring out adventures/challenges that we’d like to do is wonderful. It gets us outside our every day life and stretches us. I like that. So go ahead with jumping out of planes, drinking wine on the French Riviera, running a marathon, and shaking hands with Michael Phelps.

But these regrets…we ought to listen to them. If we can let those facing death teach us about living, then we are wise individuals. If you contemplate this list and really let yourself sit with it, what stands out?  You see, the things on this list don’t translate all that clearly to a bucket list, but they do have the potential to inform our day-to-day choices if we let them. Are you willing to ask yourself how you are doing in these areas? What do you see when you do?

Let’s start a dialogue so we can learn from each other. What practices help you live your life now in a way that will keep you at peace in the area of one of these top five regrets of the dying? Post your comments today and resolve to reading others’ practices.

Here’s the link to the article:


  1. Thank you Janice…I agree fully with those..and I am sure there are more…So even though I am not dying yet (as far as I know) I want to make sure I say a big hello to you, as I have not been in touch. Blessings on your work and keep praying for me (us)!

    1. Fr. Ray,
      Great to hear your voice on Janice’s blog. I hope you guys are being sustained and experiencing a new Pentecost with Abbot David now on the “other side” joining his prayer and praise with the saints.
      Thanks for living an admirable life and showing the way to some of us “younger” folks.

      Mark P-H

  2. The first regret hits me hard. I know I’ve spent most of my life trying to live up to my father’s expectations. I really struggle with knowing what I really want because I’m not accustomed to making decisions that way. I don’t want to look back on my life and know that I’ve lived a life of compromise. But how do you navigate making choices that are true to who you are and compatible with your spouse and your children? Or do you just go for it and walk the journey of joy and hardship along with your family? What I mean is choosing between a “safe,” predictable career path or the path of radical ministry. Thoughts?

  3. #5 seems to be the other side of the coin to #1. They are linked. I’ll think some more on those two.

  4. The one of staying in touch with friends gets me. This is one of my living regrets now. With being a husband, dad, minister, introvert; how do I continue to be a good friend. It is tough during this season of life.

  5. Actually, seems to me that there is a pretty strong correlation to the “bucket list”. Number 1, 3 and 5 appear to be laments of squashing dreams or not following one’s impulse toward fulfillment or joy. For this discussion I will assume that one and three and five are expressed in a healthy manner and not license to be foolish. So, following the bucket list, inspite of the aspersions of others, might just be the lesson to learn. Number 2 and 4 could easily be laments of not valuing relationships enough, both home and friends. So, consider including your friends and family in your bucket list endeavors and don’t worry too much about the unwarranted disapproval of others as you do. On your death bed, you might be glad you did.

  6. Great topic! I know many successful fellow businessmen who are re-evaluating life with a view toward moving from “success” to “significance” as they consider the years they have remaining. By our own choosing, we can live for the purposes we deem important at the moment… a life live largely in the weeds of daily existence. But, in my experience, a life of true joy can only be found in living for the purpose God had in mind when He created us. What could be more perfect than His plan? Yes He gives us “free time” to enjoy His creation and our fellow human beings, but true joy comes from fulfilling our purpose, whatever that may be. The power of God-centeredness allows us to live “out-of-the-box” lives that are both exciting and rewarding, while also being woven into the tapestry of His kingdom work. When we accept the challenge God’s calling, and find balance in the roles of our lives, nothing is left on the table. Can there be any regrets?

  7. Thank you, Janice, for another in a series of great blogs to get me thinking. I’ve been reflecting on the life and death of a good friend recently. If I’m honest with myself, I’ll always have a certain kind of regret – it is not possible to have all the significant moments I long for with all the friends and loved ones in my life. Sinking my roots in one place means pulling them up from somewhere else. But the great comfort for me is the eternal quality of even those brief, golden moments with the amazing people of my life. I believe those moments matter forever. In addition to my bucket list, I’d like to collect several million more significant moments. We should meet for coffee!

  8. Just when the caterpillar thought the life was over it became a butterfly. I believe the same is true for death . It is a release from earth like the butterfly.

  9. I believe that a weekly Sabbath (no work, prayer, rest, play) is the best preparation for death. It keeps the 5 regrets in front of our face as we risk not working one day out of 7. I also am a big fan of ceasing from travel vacations to Europe, China, Kauai. Instead, use time for service projects or full on retreats in nature. Service projects recharge us better than Tuscany and retreats help us change direction in life.

  10. Great post Janice. I find that alot of people I interactive with suffer from the unexamined life as much as anything else. Taking the time to answer the “what DO I want to do wtih my life?” will probably take people a long way toward executing on what they really want in life.

    I’ve also found that the “traditional” bucket list that I have is much more enjoyable when I can check off items with other people in relationships that I care about. I’m currently checking some items off of my bucket list and always trying to think about who I can get to join me so that we can enjoy them together.

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