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on December 7, 2011
I had high hopes for this book. The concept really appealed to me. Unfortunately though, I just didn't feel like the concept was very well executed. Don't get me wrong, there's some really great parts in it but I just feel like it fell short of my expectations. I just felt like there was WAY too much storytelling about the authors own personal life and not enough tales from the lives of those who were spending their last days on this earth. I would say it's about 75% about the author's life and 25% about the people who were about to pass on. The author's personal stories are usually tied into the lessons she learned from the dying patients she cared for, but still I wanted to hear more about the lives of the patients themselves.

The author's stories about herself are interesting. She obviously has lead a very free and interesting life, but constantly hearing about it loses it's appeal after a while. I was hoping to gain insight and wisdom from the people who were seeing life from their last days. I did get a portion of that, but not nearly as much as I had hoped. Strangely, a lot of the words of wisdom came from the author, which is fine I suppose, but that's not quite what I bought the book for.

Also, the end of the book got really self indulgent in my opinion. I was really feeling like giving the book 4 stars until I neared the end. There's a small portion in those last chapters that summarize her days and lessons learned with her patients, but the last 20% or so of the book is very long winded story telling of her own trials and tribulations through depression and her days as a songwriting instructor at a women's prison. I just didn't get what the point of all that content was. It didn't seem to tie in with the theme of the book at all. I kind of got the impression that the end was simply a need to fill pages to meet a quota by the way it rambled on and on. It really soured my opinion of the book as a whole.

At any rate, the book has high points and low points. It has 5 star rating material and 1 star rating material. I decided to split the difference and rank it as 3 stars overall. It's worth reading but I wouldn't recommend spending a lot of money on it. I'm glad I bought the $10 kindle version and not the $30 paper copy!
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on September 6, 2012
I bought this after reading a summary of the author's blog post that went viral, which prompted her to turn her experience into a book. Unfortunately, I did not find the book to add anything meaningful beyond what I'd already read. In attempting to flesh out and frame the earlier material, she buried it in page after page of self-indulgent fluff. Her insights about the lessons learned by some of the people under her care (the insights you can read for free on the web, and which I recommend) are clear-headed and meaningful; her insights about herself as a caregiver far less so.
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VINE VOICEon April 23, 2012
I first saw "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying" - a three page article that had evolved from author Bronnie Ware's blog, "Inspiration and Chai" - in late 2011. It has since gained international exposure with subsequent syndication and publication on high traffic Internet sites such as the Huffington Post and The Guardian.

The topic of `the regrets of the dying' resonated as I had worked in the early 1980s with physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers on new medical devices to assist in the treatment of cancer. As part of my work, I met and talked with many people who were facing certain death - children, young adults, adults, and elderly. It was a profound and transformative experience, one which I refer to often, particularly when counseling others on life. There is no better way to learn about life and how to live than to spend time with those who are dying. Ware captures these lessons and more in her "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying."

In a conversation prior to reading the book, Bronnie warned me that I might find the book disappointing as it was more about her life journey so I approached the book with some caution. She was wrong, "The Top Five Regrets" far exceeded my expectation and, yes, it included the story of her own journey - a story rooted in a failed relationship, restlessness, beauty, human dignity, love of the other, self-discovery, and eventually personal redemption as she "truly cared" for those who were dying; a story that added fabric to her learnings, learnings that healed and transformed her as she surrendered to the truths of life. This is a book I will savor for years to come.

Ware poignantly shares her stories of Agnes, Jozsef (94), Anthony (late 30s), and 15 others who face death within days to weeks after becoming their primary "carer." The stories are those all will relate to - stories of family dysfunction, alcohol abuse, blind dedication, lost friendships, romance and lifelong loving partners, poor habits, personal identity, family expectations, courage, overcoming loss, and much more. Ware's own story deals with self-acceptance, inner feelings, unhealthy patterns, and discovering her inner beauty. She almost succumbs to a depression that comes after she leaves palliative care and considers suicide. Her guardian angel, a call from out of nowhere, shakes her from her despair and moves her to choose life.

The top five regrets which Ware found as common themes of the dying that surfaced again and again were:
* Regret 1 - I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself not the life others expected of me.
* Regret 2 - I wish I didn't work so hard.
* Regret 3 - I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
* Regret 4 -I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
* Regret 5 - I wish I had let myself be happier

There are many memorable passages and quotable phrases in "The Top Five Regrets" including the following insight:

"Our society has shut death out, almost a denial of its existence. This denial leaves both the dying and the family or friends totally unprepared for what is inevitable. We are all going to die. But we try to hide it. We carry on trying to validate ourselves through our material life and associated fearful behavior instead...If we are able to face our own inevitable death with honest acceptance before we reach that time, we can shift our priorities well before it is too late. Once we recognize that limited time is remaining, we are less driven by ego or by what other people think of us. Instead, we are driven by what our hearts really want. This acknowledgement offers the opportunity to find greater purpose and satisfaction in the time we have remaining."

For this reason alone, I highly recommend "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying" for all who are living. Our time is shorter than we think...

As a postscript. I learned from Bronnie's assistant that Bronnie gave birth to her first child earlier this year, a little girl. As a father who was a single parent of two, and now with an extended family of four children, and ten (ten more arriving in mid-late 2012)grandchildren, I know from personal experience that Bronnie has eliminated one major regret by giving birth and starting a family. Loving another unconditionally and being loved unconditionally by another is THE most important experience life offers.

Bronnie, congratulations on the gift of life given to you; and thank you for your gift about life which you have given to us.
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on January 14, 2013
If you are looking for deep insights or serious contemplation of the human condition, look elsewhere. This is mostly the author reminiscing about her own life, which, yes, happens to include many people who were dying, due to her profession. However, make no mistake, the author is telling *her* story -- not the stories of her clients. She focuses mostly on events that highlight things she did that she thought were awesome, rather than focusing on her clients and their stories.
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on June 1, 2012
Despite some mixed feelings I enjoyed reading this book. Would I recommend it? It depends on your expectations. If you expect very factual book or scientific study, then forget it. If you expect good story, forget it too. But if you are prepared to read about true cases of real dying people and what their regrets are AND at the same time are prepared to be tuned to very personal story of the author, then go ahead. The key issue with the book is that it is TOO personal. I would guess that lengthy descriptions of author's way of life, her personal development, description of her ups & downs etc. would amount for almost a half of the book's content. And that's way too much. Although I think some of the personal messages give this book a necessary sense of reality, I would like to have it much more subtle.

But not to be too negative, it was certainly an interesting reading for me, I enjoyed it and it again reminded me some of the basics, which you need to turn into day in day out to stay on a reasonable path, so that at the end of your life you just do not regret that your time on earth was wasted on unimportant things. Sharing of that aspect is certainly something the author did very well.
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VINE VOICEon January 2, 2016
After hearing Bronnie Ware being interviewed on a podcast last month, I immediately ordered The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, a book that fit perfectly into a course I often teach, Human Growth and Development. By an interesting and circuitous path, the author left her successful banking career and became a “carer” of the dying. A genuinely compassionate person, Ms. Ware grew to care for all of her patients, and as they felt her affection and concern, they opened up to her and shared their life stories, complete with regrets.

As she listened to her patients, the author began to perceive the repeated recurrence of the same five regrets. This realization affected Ms. Ware so much that she decided to write a book of her findings. Not only does she tell of the patients themselves, their personalities and former lives, but she also applies their teachings to her own life. Being with them gave her courage to be true to herself.

In other words, the dying helped her live more fully.

Reading Ware’s book and pondering its contents could help anyone struggling to find the courage to make some needed changes in his or her life. While the five regrets might sound like psychobabble to some people, there’s actually quite a bit of overlap between Ware’s findings and those of developmental psychologists.
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on January 29, 2012
This is a sparkling, precious gem of a book, beautifully and simply written from a tender, loving human heart. If you're at all tempted to, buy it and read it. It is everything that makes books so powerful, so unique from other experiential media. It will change your life at the source of all change: with thinking. The depth and detail of what this woman has taken the time and pains to share should be rewarded with accolades and medals. We all live this depth and detail, but it's the rare one of us who writes it down for the benefit of others.

There is powerful information in here, not least of which is the consolidated stories and perspectives of the beautiful, poignant individuals the author cared for in their dying days. Their precious insights would, individually, take us many lifetimes to otherwise acquire.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book and not only to those of us becoming aware of and even comfortable with our spiritual journeys. I recommend this book to anyone who knows that someday he/she will die.

It's a lovely, gentle work of amazing scope and depth. God bless Bronnie Ware for offering it to us. Now I've got to go learn about her music.
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on October 19, 2014
This was not what I was expecting - It was her autobiography, not anything about end of life... I didn't make it to the end because the beginning had almost nothing to do with the topic - just her history of starts and stops. A waste of money.
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on February 4, 2013
This book had more to do with the writer than her clients. The story felt empty. There was melodrama in her description of herself. An insult to the memory of the dying. I kept reading hoping there would be some depth. Waste of time.
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on June 30, 2014
In my caregiving of an older family member on a twenty-four hour, seven day week for the six years it was good to know that another care provider had the same kind of frustrations at time as I've had. The handling of this challenge by caring for one's self was a health suggestion.
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