3 Questions to Ask on Your Deathbed (and Bad Habits)

Let’s be honest.

We don’t exactly sit around pondering our last moments on Earth or confronting our potential deathbed regrets, do we?

Who’s got the bandwidth for that?

The Grim Reaper could sneak up on us at any second, but our brains can’t quite wrap around the idea that it’ll happen soon.

And so we keep living like we’re immortal, unaware of the possible deathbed regrets accumulating in the background.

But then, when we’re finally forced to face our own mortality and spend a few minutes wrestling with the deep questions that follow, we realize just how much those tiny choices we make every day matter, and how they might lead to deathbed regrets.

Take Iman Aghay, for example. 

At 27, he had a brush with death (and today’s post is inspired by his TED Talk). 

As he thought he might be spending his final moments with his wife, three questions related to deathbed regrets flashed through his mind.

Here are those 3 questions he asked himself on his (almost) deathbed, aimed at understanding and overcoming potential deathbed regrets.

(If you’re short on time, I highly recommend watching his TED Talk at the end of this post, where he shares his personal journey with deathbed regrets and the insights he gained.)

Profound Questions for Self-Reflection on Your Deathbed

Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?

Marcus Aurelius

Q1: “What would I Regret if I Died Today?”

In her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware revealed the most common regrets people have on their deathbeds:

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

She first shared these insights in 2009.

Fast forward to a 2018 study, and Wikipedia tells us it came to similar conclusions: “people were more likely to have “ideal-related regrets,” like failing to chase their dreams or reach their full potential.”

This brings to mind something David Goggins said in an interview.

Allow me to paraphrase his powerful message:

Imagine you believe in God, the universe, or some other spiritual entity.

After living out your days on this spinning rock, you cross over to the other side and come face-to-face with the Creator.

They show you a chart of your potential—the heights you could’ve reached, the grand plan they had for you from day one.

Then they reveal another chart, this one illustrating how little you actually accomplished.

You had one shot to live up to your full potential, and you had everything you needed to make it happen.

But the chart says you blew it.


So, what would you regret most if you died today, knowing deep down that you had every chance to achieve what you wanted?

Q2: “What did I Make of My Life?”

Iman Aghay’s words really hit home: would you be satisfied with the legacy you’d leave behind if you kicked the bucket today?

It’s a thought-provoking and slightly unnerving question.

I once met a woman who told me she always tidied her desk before leaving the office, treating each day like it could be her last.

Because it really could be, she said.

As I type this, my mind wanders to my bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and workspace.

If I were to drop dead right now (gulp) and witness the aftermath, I’d probably die of embarrassment all over again!

Q3: “What would I Change If I Survived the Deathbed Today”

Ah, the most hopeful question of them all.

Because it gives us the chance to set things straight, doesn’t it?

By now, you’ve likely identified a few things in your life that could use some improvement.

The crux of this TED Talk is that the majority of deathbed regrets can be traced back to small daily choices that accumulate into remorse and bad habits.

No one’s going to lament:

  • I wish I’d spent more time on social media.
  • I wish I’d bought more stuff.
  • I wish I’d watched more TV.

Evaluating Our Daily Choices and Priorities

But get this:

According to CivicScience, on average, 55% of Americans spend one to four hours daily watching TV, and 22% watch four or more hours every day.

Even though no one will say, “I wish I’d watched more TV,” on their deathbed, it’s how we fritter away so much of our precious time.

It’s hard to imagine that one small act could define your entire life.

But let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Think about everything you did yesterday. Now, multiply that by 365. Fast forward a year.

Do you like what you see—the person you’ve become and the life you’re living?

Making Changes Today to Prevent Future Regrets

Because at some point, possibly without warning (and fingers crossed it’s in the far-off future), we’ll find ourselves on our deathbeds, reflecting on how we spent our days.

If you don’t like what you see, ask yourself: which bad habit would cause you the most regret if you died tonight?

Start by kicking that one to the curb.

I was so inspired by Iman Aghay’s message that I couldn’t wait to share it with you.

I’m not sure my hastily written post does it justice.

So I urge you to watch the video below and tell me what you think.

Watch for Inspiration: Nothing to Regret

Nothing to Regret - small bad habits cause lifelong regrets | Iman Aghay | TEDxStanleyPark

Learn from “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” 

A powerful resource that can inspire you to reflect on your own life and potential deathbed regrets is the book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware.

The author, a palliative care nurse, shares her experiences working with patients in their final weeks of life and the profound insights she gained.

Through her book, Ware reveals the most common regrets expressed by the dying, which can serve as a wake-up call for us to re-evaluate our priorities and live a more authentic and fulfilling life.

By reading “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying,” you can learn from others’ experiences and take action to prevent similar deathbed regrets in your own life.

The book encourages readers to let go of societal expectations, nurture meaningful relationships, and pursue their dreams and passions without fear.

It serves as a reminder that life is too short for regrets and that we should live each day to the fullest.

(Disclosure: If you purchase through the link, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog, my dear reader!)

Final Thoughts: Confronting Deathbed Regrets and Living Life to the Fullest

As you can see, reflecting on deathbed regrets and asking yourself the right questions can have a powerful impact on your life.

While it might be uncomfortable to face our mortality, doing so can help us gain clarity on what truly matters and motivate us to make meaningful changes.

So, take a moment to consider the questions inspired by Iman Aghay’s experience and the lessons from Bronnie Ware’s “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”

Use these insights to shape a life free of deathbed regrets, filled with purpose, authenticity, and fulfilment.

In doing so, you will not only enrich your own life but also create a positive ripple effect on the lives of those around you.

Embrace the wisdom shared in this post, confront potential deathbed regrets head-on, and seize the opportunity to live a life true to yourself – one that you can look back on without regrets.

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