page contents Google


Bronnie Ware Listens To The Dying On Their Deathbed.



The writer worked with dying patients who told their story.

She listed the top five in her book.

If you’ve been with others on their deathbed, do any of them ring true to you?

The baby boomer demographic may have the same responses to imminent death, but many of these sound like words from the Greatest Generation.

Think Great Depression in the 30’s, World War II in the first part of the 40’s followed by the Cold War.

Think Korean War and Vietnam War and Gulf War and every war since.

How many older people watch the news at night and come away feeling like the world is doomed and they haven’t done enough to save it.

You can’t tell them to lighten up, that it’s not their fault, that no one else is saving the world from doom either.

They have their regrets; you’ll have yours. It’s not a contest anyone wants to win.

The Bronnie list with BoomerPdx notes below.

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

Number one with a bullet? Regret for not being true to yourself?

You don’t need a near death moment to realize how big expectations can be.

Get married and have kids and you’re expected to stick around and pretend you want to be there instead of the beach, the lush valley, the wind swept mountains.

Wilt Chamberlain died true to himself, neglecting any and all of those he contacted during his self reported 20,000 ‘romantic’ encounters.

Steve Jobs seemed true to himself. When he died lesser people called him out as a jerk.

Henry Ford followed his own vision and drove his only son Edsel to an early grave.

Our surroundings influence us. People we love influence us.

Bruce Springsteen showed a sort of courage in a song with, “Got a wife and kid in Baltimore, Jack. Went out for a ride and never came back.”

The father of A Boy Named Sue had the courage to live life on his terms.

Is courage more than ditching the life you’ve built to avoid expectations?

Try this instead: identify the expectations others have of you. Exceed those expectations every day.

If that’s not good enough to earn the freedom you want then you live with over-controlling punks.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

Ask this question: Is it the work, or the time spent at work?

Too often it’s not the work but justifying the time you spend at work to those who want you closer to them.

At the end of your life you might want loved ones by your side. But they’re at work.

Before dying in a fiery crash Harry Chapin wrote and sang Cat’s In The Cradle.

“When you coming home Dad? I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then. We’ll have a good time then.”

My personal experience with workaholic types is they use the job to avoid the sort of intimate communication that make good family time special.

They want to hear, “Do this. When you’re done, do that,” instead of trying to decipher the between the lines messages they get from their spouses and kids.

“Did you pick up something for dinner?” means more than something to eat. It could mean ‘why do I have to do everything and cook and clean on top of it all’ or ‘if you had a better job I could quit mine and learn to cook’ or ‘unless you want to eat a boot you’d better pick something up.’

Instead, they stay late, come home after everyone’s in bed, and leave early.

“When you coming home, Dad?”

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

It’s easy to say, “you look beautiful.”

How hard is it to say, “I’m sorry?”

Expressing positive feelings brings positive feelings.

Express negative feelings? How did it work the last time you told someone to “f— off?”

Learn to express your feelings before you start. Make sure you feel the way you talk.

What will you say the next time someone asks, “Do these pants make my butt look big?”

The wrong answer is a step closer to death.

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

There’s a reason the car windshield is so big compared to the rear view mirror.

If you had real friends they’d be in touch with you on your deathbed.

If not, give them a break by knowing how hard it must be for them to think of you.

Don’t be afraid to make new friends. The nurse, the doc, the aide? All new friends.

Regale them with stories of your old friends. Remember the time your fourth grade pal hung his dog and nailed frogs to trees? The time your buddy chased you with a stick full of dead animal guts?

Friends old and new bring a special flavor to life.

Stick with the people in your life now. You’re suffering enough as it is.

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

Did you dance like no one was watching?

Did you sing even if you knew you had a tin ear?

Did you laugh at something without explaining what’s so funny?

Did you buy a distressed table and complain about the scratches?

Did you look at yourself for years and think you’re too fat, then look at early pictures and wonder why?

You’re on your deathbed. No one will correct you when you tell them you danced like Dancing With The Stars.

No one will doubt when you say you used to sing like they do on America’s Got Talent.

Hum a song. Wiggle your toes. It’s a start, and it’s not too late.




About David Gillaspie


  1. Alex Paul says:

    You must have had a traumatic fourth grade! No one every hung his dog in my hometown, at least no one I still called friend. And if we killed frogs we ate them!
    All in all great observations! See you at the big party?

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Hi Alex,

      Bronnie Ware, a name that just rolls on its own, helped the dying get okay with what was happening, which was their body shutting down.

      My father in law came home to die after his own lengthy illness. It didn’t go according to plan. After my pep talk he lived five more years. A shocking development to be sure.

      Did he have any regrets? As his care guy I kept him too busy for regrets, a hard job with someone suffering from Parkinson’s, dementia, and cancer.

      Shawshank Redemption and Morgan Freeman’s reminder to either get busy living or get busy dying hit the mark.

      On the dog and frog deal, the dog didn’t die. It wiggled out of it’s collar and ran away. So did I.

      Looking forward to big times ahead.

%d bloggers like this: