18 Things People Regret the Most When They’re Old and Dying

As people near the end of their lives, they commonly reflect on what they’ve done or didn’t do and what they could have done better. Regrets often plague us in the last moments of our lives, but they’re completely avoidable. If you want to ensure you live a full life without any regrets, learn from the top 18 regrets of the old and dying that we have on this list!

Not Being Present for Their Loved Ones When It Mattered Most

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Older people who were go-getters when they were younger were typically out of the house most of the time. They were present at work but never during their child’s games, birthdays, graduation, or when their family members needed them. However, presence and emotional support are some things we, as parents, need to give our kids; if we don’t, we’ll surely regret it later. Aside from damaging your relationship with your own children, you can also push them down the path of being more susceptible to mental health issues, such as depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety.

Not Having a Good Work-Life Balance

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When you were in your 20s and 30s, you might think that the best thing to have in life is money; you might have believed that wealth would bring you all the happiness in life. However, now that you’re in your 80s or 90s, all you can think about is how much you missed in life just because you were always at work and never at the important events. You missed family members’ birthdays, special occasions, or even once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and events just because you were at work. Remember, you work to live and not the other way around!

Working Too Hard

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A good work ethic is great and is something to be proud of. However, in the long run, too much work can lead to burning out and losing the spark you once had. Leader for Good shares, “The distinction between ‘doing what you love’ and overworking often becomes blurry. But while doing what you love might make you happy, working too much probably won’t.”

Letting Go of Their Passions and What They Truly Wanted to Become

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Going into tech, real estate, finance, or business can make you extremely wealthy. However, if that’s not something you enjoy doing, you will never really reach true satisfaction and fulfillment. If you don’t follow your passion, there’s a high chance you’ll regret not doing something to even try pursuing it when you’re in your 80s or 90s. Chasing your passions may not bring you the wealth you want, but it will multiply your happiness tenfold!

Not Having the Courage to Express Their Feelings

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Fear hampers you from finding the courage to express your feelings. You may fear disappointing others, you may fear failing, or you may fear the potential consequences of your actions and feelings—no matter what it is, fear is a big roadblock when it comes to being honest with yourself and others. However, if you let fear reign over you, you’ll regret things later in life. Regret will worm itself into your life, reminding you of things you didn’t do just because of fear.

Not Exploring and Traveling the World Enough

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Traveling and exploring the world is a privilege, but it’s also doable for many people. Sadly, some choose not to do so because they are afraid of spending money or are too busy with their lives. However, if you let time pass and wait until you’re retired before you travel, you’ll realize that there are many things you can no longer do simply because you’re old. You can’t jump off cliffs anymore, hike the tallest mountains, or dive into the deepest depths of the ocean—all because you’ve waited far too long before exploring and traveling the world.

Not Caring for Their Body and Letting Their Health Decline

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People think they don’t have to do annual checkups or screenings because they’re still young; nothing could be wrong with them because they’re just in their 20s and 30s, right? Well, self-care, even at a young age, is essential because it can help keep one healthy when they get older. Southern New Hampshire University explains, “Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, improve concentration, minimize frustration and anger, increase happiness, improve energy, and more. From a physical health perspective, it has also been clinically proven to reduce heart disease, stroke, and cancer.”

Not Having the Courage to Be Who They Truly Are

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When you don’t dare to be who you truly are, it’s like you’re living under a mask or a different persona. Now, imagine doing that for 80 to 90 years of your life. Wouldn’t that be exhausting and cause you to lose sight of what’s truly important? Quality Mind shares, “Understanding who you truly are allows you to acknowledge and honor your authentic self; it helps you feel strong in accepting your strengths, weaknesses, desires, and values without feeling like you have to fit into what society expects or what others think. Embracing authenticity fosters self-acceptance and promotes genuine connections with others as you engage with the world from a place of genuine sincerity.”

Valuing Material Things Over Experiences

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It’s easy to believe that getting more material things—houses, cars, clothes, designer items—will bring you more happiness than experiences because they are something you can touch. However, the joy provided by material possessions is only short-lived, nor does it stay with you as you grow older. As you age and reach your 80s and 90s, what you’ll remember are the experiences you went through—your travels, celebrations, and time spent with the people you loved.

Keeping Their Feelings and Opinions to Themselves

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One of the biggest mistakes people make is keeping their feelings and opinions to themselves. You might have a thing or two to say about something, but you never really open your mouth because you fear the consequences. However, if you don’t speak up, then you’ll have to live the rest of your life keeping your mouth shut about something. You’ll never be truly at peace or happy because something’s keeping you from doing so.

Staying in Their Comfort Zones

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When someone nears the end of their life, sometimes, all they can think about are the things they didn’t do. When they were younger and had the chance to do them, they didn’t simply because of fear, laziness, or lack of confidence. The decision to stay in their comfort zones is something they have to live with for the rest of their lives, and it can result in them regretting many things when they’re near the end of life.

Being Distant From Friends and Cutting off Important Ties

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A lot of people are trying to normalize cutting off friends or growing out of friendships. While this is helpful in cases where people are toxic to you, it could be detrimental to your happiness in old age if you cut off your friends just because you think you’re too busy. According to The Variel, “Older adults who maintain social connections reap the emotional rewards of friendship, and studies indicate they experience better physical and mental health as well. Friends can lower our stress by adding fun to our days and supporting us during difficult times; they encourage us to stay active, physically and mentally.”

Being Too Harsh and Judgmental of Themselves

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We are often said to be the biggest critics of ourselves. However, while this kind of mentality can help you improve and be better, too much criticism and judgment—especially if these things come from us—can be detrimental. As seniors have realized, we only have one life to live, and if we constantly criticize and judge ourselves, we’ll only see life through a dark lens.

Not Being as Loving and Caring Toward the People Who Matter Most

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In your younger years, it’s very easy to push our family members to the back burner because we think what’s most important is chasing after our careers, earning more money, and being labeled successful by society. However, as you age and you lose more and more people in life, you’ll slowly realize that what truly matters are your family members and friends—not work, money, or success. So, before it’s too late and you regret it, make sure you make the necessary adjustments to your life!

Being a People Pleaser

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People pleasing is something that diminishes your worth as a person. So, imagine being a people pleaser for 80 or more years of your life. When you do this, you’ll lose sight of who you truly are, what you want from life, and what would make you truly happy. As a result, senior citizens who were people pleasers in their younger years fully regret it, as they could have done and achieved so much more if only they prioritized themselves over others.

Being Too Impulsive in Their Younger Years

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When you’re impulsive, you act without thinking about the consequences that would follow. Sure, you might think it’s nothing when you’re young; after all, you have all the time in the world to make things right. However, as you age, you’ll realize this is a flawed mentality. After all, there are some consequences that you’ll have to live with forever.

Worrying About the Future or the Past Too Much

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As senior citizens have learned, worrying too much about the past or the future will never do you any good. With the time they have left here on Earth, they have a better grasp of how important it is to live in the moment and in the present. They think, “How much more would I have been able to do, achieve, and experience in life if I started living in the present when I was younger?” So, don’t wait until you have only a couple of years to live; start living in the present now and experience all that life has to offer!

Not Being Careful Enough When Choosing Their Life Partner

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  1. Jackson Brown Jr., the American author, famously said, “Choose your life’s mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90% of all your happiness or misery.” Those in their 80s or 90s know how true this statement is, especially if they jumped into a relationship with someone in their 20s and 30s without thinking things through.

Read More: 20 Common Traits Poorly Educated People Usually Have

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Poorly educated individuals may exhibit certain noticeable characteristics that set them apart from others. On the flip side, some may also compensate for their lack of education by pretending to be knowledgeable in certain areas. This behavior is often a way for poorly educated individuals to maintain their self-image and self-esteem.

20 Common Traits Poorly Educated People Usually Have

20 Behaviors and Traits That Are Dead Giveaways of Having Low Intelligence

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Speaking loudly, being overly confident, or even gossiping can all be signs of someone having low intelligence. However, by recognizing these markers, people can become more proactive in addressing their limitations and weaknesses, eventually improving their overall mental and emotional capacity. Read on and learn more about the top 20 dead giveaways of low intelligence!

20 Behaviors and Traits That Are Dead Giveaways of Having Low Intelligence

20 Things You’re Doing That Make You a Bad Neighbor

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People have different personalities; that’s a fact. When you move somewhere with a tight-knit community, you will get to know many people who will either clash with your personality or make you feel like you’ve found a new friend. However, no matter what it is, remember to establish boundaries. If you don’t, you might soon see a lot of bad blood between you and other people in the community!

20 Things You’re Doing That Make You a Bad Neighbor

20 Signs You Have Little to No Emotional Support in Your Relationship

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Navigating a relationship without enough emotional support can feel like being caught in a storm without shelter. Constant feelings of isolation, misunderstanding, and loneliness indicate a loss of balance in the emotional aspect of your relationship. Thankfully, it’s not too late to get help because we’ve gathered the top 20 signs that can help you determine whether or not you’re receiving the emotional support you need for a healthy, thriving relationship.

20 Signs You Have Little to No Emotional Support in Your Relationship

20 Christian Practices That Confuse and Puzzle Others

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All regions differ in some way. Catholics collect saint cards and plan their vacations around religious sights, and Buddhists believe in karma and reincarnation. Like them, Christians also practice some things that are simply unheard of or puzzling for others. They practice tithing, cast out demons, and more!

20 Christian Practices That Confuse and Puzzle Others

Author: Karen Danao


Karen is a writer and also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, she is someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics she loves writing about! However, her true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.