5 Lessons I Learned From People Who Were Dying - David C Figueroa's Blog
David C Figueroa's Blog

5 Lessons I Learned From People Who Were Dying


Five Common Regrets of People on the Verge of Death

“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.”-           Leonardo Da Vinci

As I write this article, I just read in a news story, that our past President, Jimmy Carter, is in hospice care. What that means is that he does not have long to live.

Jimmy Carter served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977-1981. His presidency will be remembered with mixed accomplishments.

His term was overwhelmed with inflation, energy crisis, war in Afganistan, and Iran hostages. On the positive side,he was able to restore a compassionate decency to the presidency, and bolstered social programs. He was also awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2002. He served only one term.

At 98 years of age he is the oldest living, longest-lived and longest-married president. At the age of 90, he was diagnosed with melanoma which has spread to his liver and brain. Even with this diagnosis, he could often be seen with a hammer in hand building houses for families in need.

As Mr. Carter approaches his death I wonder if he has any regrets. He has said in previous interviews that “he is at ease with death.”  I would think that when he leaves, he will do so without any regrets.

For sure, Mr. Carter has lived an amazing, prosperous, and giving life. I wish him a peaceful passing when the time comes. Regardless, of your political views, I am sure you will agree that Mr. Carter has been a great human being!

Unfortunately, many of us common people approach death with regrets. People who are on their death beds often express some common regrets about how they lived their lives.

According to Bronnie Ware, author of the book, Top Five Regrets of the Dying, some people spend their deathbed days in anguish and pain because they felt that they did not make the right decisions in life. They felt that they spent most of their lives on things that in the end did not mean very much.

Will you have any regrets when you are dying?

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Here are the 5 regrets that were told to Ms. Ware as she tended to the needs of those who were dying:

#1- A Life True to Oneself- “I wish I’d lived a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Dying people often regret not living the life that was in their heart and the one they truly wanted to live. There are countless examples of this.

It may be the person who hates being stuck as a “cubicle slave” never having the courage to escape so he can start his own business.

Or, it could be the woman stuck in a toxic marriage that dreams of becoming an author.

Life Lesson: Have the courage to break away from the chains that bind you so that you can do what you love. We only have a limited amount of time. Use it wisely.

#2-Working Too Much- “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”

Dying people regretted spending so much time on their careers to the detriment of their time in other more fulfilling areas of their life. You may be trying to climb the corporate ladder, spending 60-80 hours per week on the job. But, on the inside you know that you may be neglecting your family, your children, or your spouse.

You never hear a dying person say that they wished they would have worked more.

Life Lesson: Create for yourself a balanced life. Yes, working for money is necessary, but don’t neglect the important things in life such as family and friends. Make sure you create time for leisure. And, don’t tell me “you don’t have time.” If it’s important to you, you will MAKE time!

#3- Express Feelings- “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”

Dying people often regret not having more time to express their feelings to important persons in their life. For many people, including myself, it is difficult to express their emotions.

It may be difficult to say “I love you,” or “I am grateful,” or “I appreciate you.” For some people it may also be difficult to say “I don’t like your behavior.” Nevertheless, it can be painful to leave feeling unspoken.

Life Lesson: If you feel you need to say something, say it. Express your feelings either positive or negative. However, speak honestly with emotional maturity. Don’t live your last days with the anguish of regret.

#4-Real Life Connection- “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

Dying people regretted not staying in touch with their old friends from work, from their clubs, from the sports they played, or other social groups. During their last days, dying people often just wanted to reminisce, laugh about their old days, and remember people in their lives.

Life Lesson: Maintain or re-establish a connection with old friends before you die. Today, it is much easier to do with the technology of social media like Facebook etc. Don’t live your last days regretting that you didn’t get a chance to say good-bye to your best friend.

#5- Choose Happiness- “I wish I had allowed myself to be happier.”

Some people choose to live lives filled with resentment, anger, and despair. They tend never to let go of the negativity in their lives, and instead create more.

Others choose to live happy, fulfilling, contented lives. They make the best of their situations and it has nothing to do with money or status.

I know people who live in isolated villages, in houses with dirt floors, and no indoor toilets who live wonderful happy lives. Their children have no store-bought toys, no shoes, and no technology. They may live in the poorest villages of Africa, or perhaps Mexico and yet they are some of the happiest children in the world.

You can choose to live a miserable life, or you can choose to be happier.

Life Lesson: You can choose happiness. Don’t let others dictate your happiness. Find things to be grateful for regardless of your circumstances. Don’ create negativity. Maintain positive values. It is YOUR life. Choose your own focus.

As I enter the last quarter of my life, I find myself thinking more about my approaching death. I often ask myself questions such as:

Have I made the most of my life?”

Have I contributed to society?”

How will people remember me?”

Have I been good to the people around me?”

Have I made this world a little better?”

Have I cherished the friends and family that I have?”

Am I happy?”

Will I have a chance to see the ocean one more time, to eat one last slice of pizza, or have one more hot fudge sundae before I die?”

One thing for sure. I don’t want to be on my death bed living with regrets! How about you?

“Keep busy doing and living, and you will not have the time to think about death.  Become completely absorbed with the business of living.”- Rhoda Lachar

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To your success,

David C Figueroa- Success Coach

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About the Author David C Figueroa

David C Figueroa is a psychologist with over 35 years of experience teaching personal development. An awesome success coach, and internet marketer. Now retired, he has refocused his goals into helping ambitious men and women to create exceptional lives.

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