Bucket lists are inventories of things to do before you die, they’re often developed by people who know that they may have little time left. It’s thought of whether they’re good ideas and beneficial or if they cam cause harm. Is it useful to generate lists due to expense or illness, can these be perceived as unrealistic?

Nowadays, the term bucket list is a part of everyday language, it may seem hard to believe that it entered our language in the last 10 years. Its origin is hard to locate, but we believe that it was developed from the phrase ‘kick the bucket’.

Bucket lists became known following the 2007 film, Bucket List, this was about two terminally ill men who went on a road trip and ticked off everything they wanted to do before they died.

Occasionally peoples’ bucket lists have been widely known. The story of Matt Greenwood, who was given a terminal diagnosis at 21, wrote a widely publicised list of goals. His friends then raised more than £56,000 to help him complete them.

The effect of creating a bucket list when you approach the end of life is largely unknown, but some conclusions can be drawn from current evidence that people have discussed about their own experiences.

Research has shown that developing goals for a person who knows that they are dying can give them hope and affirm the value that their lift still has, even when it’s limited in time and potential.

Bucket lists have been widely publicised, a doctor from Huddersfield, who was 30 when we was diagnosed with terminal cancer, developed her own bucket list and created a website to help others do the same. She felt that her list offered a host of benefits including motivation, positive focus and romance. Her advice was to keep it simple as well as include activities that may seem inconsequential to others, but were important to her and her husband. Since then, bucket lists have wide social benefits than for the person alone.


Unintended consequences

There’s some evidence that bucket lists can have unintended consequences. Observational research that’s been conducted in a hospice has shown that whilst attention was given to big-bucket-list-type activities, like getting married, smaller day-to-day activities could easily be missed. Focusing on large and more significant things can lead to a loss of focus on everyday opportunities.

There’s evidence that in some cases, enthusiastic completion of bucket list activities can lead to premature death. Perhaps the real worth of bucket lists isn’t the activities, experiences or goals themselves, but the hopes, values and motivations that lie behind them.

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