How Bucket Lists Help The Terminally Ill – And Those Around Them

Buckets lists – inventories of things to do before you die – are often developed by people who know they have little time left. It seems like a good idea. But are they really beneficial, or can they cause harm? And is it really useful to generate lists that may – either due to expense or illness – be perceived as unrealistic?

The term “bucket list” is now such a normal part of everyday language that it seems hard to believe that it only entered our speech in the last ten years or so. Its origin is hard locate, but it probably developed from that other well-known phrase of uncertain origin: to “kick the bucket”.

Bucket lists leapt into everyday parlance following the 2007 film of the same name. It followed two terminally ill men (played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who went on a fantastical road trip, ticking off everything they wanted to do before they died. Despite mixed reviews, the film was an international box office hit and the term “bucket list” quickly became part of everyday speech. Continue reading