What Do Most People Regret At The End Of Their Life?

My conversations with patients near the end of their lives.

Sara Burdick
6 min readNov 22, 2021


Photo by Eduardo Barrios on Unsplash

We crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow. Fulton Oursler

I have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing people in my career. I don’t mean nurses; I am referring to my patients.

I have been a nurse for 16 years. Working in intensive care and medical-surgical units.

I spent a lot of time with my patients and enjoyed having deep meaningful conversations in critical times of their lives.

Many of them would tell me all their friends have died and their families do not talk to them. They were seen as either a “burden or old”. This broke my heart, plus I loved to ask them all kinds of questions about their lives.

It was a walk down memory lane for them and for me it was knowledge.

We take the elderly for granted in our society when we should honor them. They have so much knowledge.

Believe me — I’ve done very good stuff and very crazy stuff, and I don’t regret the crazy stuff. Jean-Claude Van Damme

Photo by Danie Franco on Unsplash

What do you regret most in your life and what would you do differently if you had the chance?

Often in my life, I have been at a crossroads. I want a new job, or to change areas in the hospital. Travel the world, how can I do this, how do I know which decision is right?

So I would ask my patients these questions.

I was happy to get advice on issues that I was having in my life. It was almost like free therapy. Take a minute and sit with an older person, ask them for their advice. I guarantee you it will help you out.

I have had patients tell me they regretted having kids!

I was at a critical stage in my life, and I was conflicted should I have kids, even though I don’t want them. Thinking I was broken because…



Sara Burdick

I quit the rat race after working as a nurse for 16 years. Travel and Storyteller. I live in Colombia. https://linktr.ee/saraaliceburdick