Have you ever wondered what regrets you might have after a lifetime of looking back? A new study reveals the five biggest regrets that people express as they age.

Bronnie Ware, a former hospice nurse, spent years working with individuals in their final days and has catalogued the five most common regrets her clients talk about after they’ve lived a long life.

image of a woman speaking with her hospice nurse

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Ware described this regret to be the most common of all. Individuals described their deep regret that they didn’t follow their dreams and passions as they wished, and instead followed the path that was expected of them. These individuals lamented over the life they could have lived and expressed that their lives could have been much different had they pursued their own plan.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. Male individuals often described this regret in relation to missing out on time with their wives and children because of their work commitments. Many of these individuals were from older generations of the working class and it was expected of them to be the sole provider for their family. These individuals expressed their regret of missing out on family milestone moments because they were working instead.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Ware detailed that many of her elderly clients didn’t speak their mind enough during their lifetime out of fear of hurting those around them. Some even carried around a lifetime of bitterness and developed residual illnesses because of it, like depression. They pondered over past conversations, specifically what might have changed as a result of them saying what they were feeling. 
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Many individuals expressed that they got so caught up in the day-to-day of life, that they didn’t keep in touch with people that were once close friends. They didn’t realize the importance of the friendships they once had throughout their lifetime and realized that once in hospice care, it was too late to track down their old friends. 
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. While Ware’s elderly clients did reflect on their past positively during their hospice care, they also regretted not choosing joy in certain moments and instead chose to be angry or sad. They didn’t realize that they spent their life chasing the idea of happiness instead of choosing happiness in their past, only to realize at the end of their lives, they weren’t truly as happy as they could have been. 

Hospice nurses like Bronnie know these fears because they take time to discover an individual’s desires during their final stage of life.

Hospice care provides caring support to individuals and their families to help navigate end-stage diseases and illnesses. When families decide to shift the focus from curative treatments to focusing on a better quality of life through pain and symptom management, hospice is a positive option. Services include medication management, counseling, assistance with community resources for end of life planning, bereavement support and more.

To learn more about hospice care at Kindred, or to find out if hospice is appropriate for your loved one, call 1.866.KINDRED to speak with one of our Registered Nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


By Hayley Pugel