Nobody wants to have to say goodbye from a loved one. Sometimes we don’t even know that the last words we say to them will be our last until it’s too late. Here are the stories of the Quora community of the last words they spoke to their loved ones before they died.
Comments have been edited for clarity. The source can be found the end of the article.
I love you, Chris.
The last thing he said to me was I love you Herb, youre my best friend. It was over the telephone.
I was starting an IV on an elderly patient. He was obviously very ill- probably Sepsis. As I prepared to insert the needle I said, Little poke and then it will be over. He smiled and shook his head to affirm understanding.
I held his right hand with my left hand as my right hand guided the needle into his vein. I heard him sigh just after the needle broke the skin, but the sigh turned into an extended exhalation that lasted an inordinate length of time. Every nurse recognizes this death breath expiration. I looked up at the daughter and asked, Does he have advance directives?
He is a DNR, she said.
It’s time, I said and placed his hand in hers.
This type of death is routine in an Emergency Department. Not a daily or even weekly occurrence but fairly common. In most cases, the nurse is not the last person to speak to the patient. Often times people are unconscious just before dying.
In this case, I wish I had chosen my words better. It is bothersome that the last words this man heard were so utilitarian and insipid.
Empo, my mothers aunt, has been living with our family for thirty years. She died of stroke early last year. She was 90 years-old.
I almost didnt say goodbye. It was eleven at night, and our flight to Japan was in six hours time. If I wanted to say that I was leaving, I had to knock on her door that very instance.
She would already be sleeping, wouldnt she? I asked Mom.
No, shes still awake, Mom said. Go now.
So I went down the stairs and knocked on her door. The stay-at-home nurse opened. Her room was already dark. Empo was laying on the bed, watching the TV. She noticed that someone had entered the room, and asked, Who is it?
Its Ella, I said. I walked towards the side of her bed, leaning forward and placing my mouth right beside her ear.
Po, I will be going tomorrow for holiday, I said. Be well, Empo. Eat a lot. Take care.
Empo nodded and asked, When going back Melbourne?
January ninth, I said.
She nodded. Well, then, enjoy the trip. Have fun. She put her hand on my shoulder and patted me. This was odd, as she was usually unhappy when we left her for the holiday. I kissed her left cheek and then her right, waving my hands and slowly closing the door to her room.
Be well, I whispered.
Empo had stroke when we were still in Japan. My parents caught a flight home right away, but my older sister and I werent able to get on an earlier flight. Empo never woke up from her coma. But my parents got there in time, Facetimed us and right after my sister and I said goodbye a second time, she passed away.
I almost didnt say goodbye. But Im sure glad that I did.
If that time comes and I am still around and I can do something about it, I promise you, your daughter will graduate
This happened a couple of years back with my good friend willy. Prior to this we havent seen each other for almost 10 years and during that time I never knew that willys life had misfortunes one after the other that they were barely making it thru the day. Also during this 10 years, willy had a very bad asthma attack that he flat line in the emergency room but was revived by doctors.
When we finally saw each other again, I saw that I was in a position to help him out and so I did. Willy started to get his bearings back, his self confidence was slowly getting its second wind. We both thought that things were finally looking up for him.
Then one night when I came to see him, I never gave it much thought then but I guess that was his way of saying goodbye. That night that I came by, he said You know why I was revived by the doctors and did not die that time, probably its because I still needed to make sure that my youngest daughter would be in good hands after I die he turned to me and said maybe its you that I was waiting for, please make sure my daughter graduates in response I said If that time comes and I am still around and I can do something about it, I promise you, your daughter will graduate.
After I said that, Willy turned and said he needed to lie down for a short while as he was tired. He walked to his room and no more than two minutes after he entered he walked out looking extremely in pain and was unable to breath. He was signalling that I hit him in the back but instead I asked for help that he be brought to the hospital as I knew he was having an asthma attack.
The people who were living with him in the house managed to get a vehicle to bring him to the hospital but it was small so those that carried him went with the vehicle and I was left behind to follow. Waiting for his wife and daughter to go to the hospital, I received a call from those that went with him and they told me that willy was dead.
I did what I could to make sure her daughter finished college. She graduated and now works and is now able to help his brother and mother. After she graduated from college, I never havent seen them again but I am updated by our friends. God Bless Willy.
John Patrick Delgado
YOU KNOW EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED MUM? NONE OF IT MATTERS. I LOVE YOU. (Followed by a cuddle and a kiss on the cheek).
Mum wasn’t on her death bed. She hadn’t been well for a while. But she wasn’t dying.
Although only 3 in the afternoon. Mum was a little intoxicated. Again. At 56 years of age she had swapped one addiction for another.
When we were young, my older brother, my little sister, and I. Life wasn’t always easy. My parents were a couple of 1960s wild child/ hippie/groupies/ stick them in whatever bracket you wish. They were a couple of young carefree teens, who made a bad decision one day, and tried a drug. An awful, addictive, life changing drug, that from that day onwards would dictate the rest of their lives. Our childhood was hard. We were poorly clothed, we would go days without food. We witnessed horrors. People dying, violence, crime, we buried guns in the garden when the police were at the door.
What truley awful parent, don’t you think? No. They weren’t. Not to me. They were my mum and dad. And I loved them more than I could ever explain. And they loved us. More than they could ever explain. When not comatosed on heroin, they were the best parents ever. My dad used to take us fishing, my mum would take us to Holland Park, and we would watch open air shows or play in the adventure playground. And every day, we would have a cuddle and kiss from our mum and dad, and they would tell us how much they loved us. Often my mum would cry too. Cuddle me so tightly and cry, and whisper how sorry she was for the times things were bad. Even though there was every chance the following day could be yet another bad day. Or even the start of a bad week.
By the time we were finally taken into care by the authorities, it was pure survival. Now dad never got straight. He died about 10 years later.
But this is about mum. My beautiful mum. My lovely mum, who spent the next 3 years, going through detox programmes. Rehabilitation programmes. parenting courses, designed to prove she could cope if she ever got custody of us. She done the fucking lot. On her own. Without the support of my dad, who wasn’t strong enough to break free.
After 4 horrible years, spent in foster homes, children’s homes, ( we were meant to be safe there!). We returned to live with mum. She had done so well. I was so proud. I loved her even more. But it was soon to be quite obvious what she had done. She hadn’t broken free. Not properly. She had just managed to swap one addiction for another. What was heroin, was now vodka and cider. At least they’re legal I suppose.
Well ive waffled too much. But I needed to explain why it was those words. Because, as I always say to people. Our parents loved us dearly. A lot of people can’t say that. A lot of people struggle with life, because they felt not wanted, or unloved as a child. Not us.
Several years later, my wife and I visit my mum’s house. It was my wife’s birthday so it was a quick pop in so mum could give her a little present and to say hi. We left and I said bye. I got in the car and rooted around for my mobile phone. Couldn’t find it anywhere. Must be on mums coffee table I thought. I jumped out the car and walked back into mum’s house. She was just stood in the kitchen, looking out of the window. She looked up as I searched for my phone. Nope. Nowhere. Oh well.
As I went to leave, I gave my mum the biggest cuddle. She looked sad. And a little upset. A little drunk too.
You know everything that’s happened mum? None of it matters. I love you
I kissed her on the cheek and we held each other tight. For a minute or so. she smiled at me. A kind of forced smile, but one that said, thank you son.
Less than a week later, she was gone. Something like Hepatic ence pathology. I don’t know how to spell it. Or what it really is. It doesn’t matter. It was years of drink and drugs, I know enough.
See you tomorrow!
My friend Spencer died in a car crash that afternoon. I didnt know until after school the next day, when my dad told me the news. A lot of things ran through my mind, like how I forgot to return his pencil and wouldnt be able to invite him to my 9th birthday party. I miss him so much despite being friends for only a few months.
Yeah right! Ill turn straight the same day you become Queen of Sheba.
If I had known that Zach, along with his two younger sisters, would be murdered by his father that night, I wouldve held tightly onto his sleeve and insisted that he slept over at my house — something the two of us did frequently. If I did, maybe hed be here today and wed see each other every day at MMA practice and grab snacks afterwards like we always did.
In case that doesnt work, you could do what I did and pour glue into her backpack.
The last conversation Ashlee and I had was about how she could get revenge on her sister for graffiting Ashlees room with lipstick. What I didnt know was that she would use bleach to poison herself in that same bedroom. I visited her house shortly after she passed and I found that, in the back of her closet, was a paper pride flag folded to look like a large butterfly.
Whelp, heres my stop.
Dang I regret this one the most. Chloe was almost a sister to me ever since we met in first grade. We gossiped and shared secrets all the time because we had each others full trust. She was the first person I came out to and the one I went to if I needed advice on fashion or dating boys. And I would do anything for her, too. I cross-dressed many times and always covered for her if her parents asked where she was. She hung herself that evening and I found out later that night.
Im still trying to process the fact that my Drama teacher jumped in front of a subway after school…
Its okay Camper, Momma and Dadda get sick too – you are being very brave, now get some sleep, I love you.
My two-year and nine month-old son, whose name was Camper, had the best day of his life on Saturday. Two birthday parties – one at the beach and one at his cousins house with great friends and family.
The following day, he woke up with a headache. He was very smart and well spoken and told us (my wife and I) that his head hurt in the morning. We assumed he was probably a little dehydrated and just not feeling the well from all the cake and party action on the previous day.
My wife had to see clients that day, so I spent the day with Camper. We watched the movie A Bugs Life, but he was throwing up and napping throughout the day. I just thought he had a general sickness.
My brother-in-law was a pediatrician at the time, so he advised us to make sure Camper stayed hydrated with some Pedialyte. We did that, then put him down for bed that night, which is when I said, Its okay Camper, Momma and Dadda get sick too – you are being very brave, now get some sleep. Sweet dreams. I love you.
And to be honest, I dont really know if I said I love you – I regularly tell my children that, but for the life of me, I cannot exactly remember. It feels better to think that I did, even though he knew that anyway. I told him a few times throughout the day that he was being brave, because he didnt cry or complain at all.
He never woke up from that final sleep. We ended up taking him, unresponsive, to the trauma room that night. He had an undiagnosed brain tumor that I guess just slowly grew as he got older. Slow enough that his brain could adjust and we never once saw any symptoms. And finally, on that day, it ruptured an artery in his brain and that was the end of his very bright, very full, very short life.
Her name was Harshita and my super cute niece. She was two and a half years old. Because of my effete heart I couldnt even see her last time. Home alone, family members at her place. Called my mom 1 hour ago, heard screaming and crying voices.
She was playing with her chachu (her father’s brother) on the roof of the house (3rd floor). While happily playing she climbed over the grills/fence, lost her control and fell on the marble floor with her head down(can’t even imagine this scenario).
She was then admitted to the Hospital (Patiala) in the ICU and then on Ventilator.
12 hrs passed down, no moves.
(Inner me: Shivering and crying)
Her: Heart beat slowed down to 14bpm, 510 skull fractures, sugar level tremendously increased.
The Doctors gave up and recommends us to admit her to PGI. Hoping for a relief in Chandigarh.
But who knows that she will be lost on the way.
After 20hrs of fighting, we lost her.
She was the cutest kid and kept making funny faces and actions just to make everyone laugh.
I will remember that last video call (called the day before she died) all my life.
Please be careful around kids, specifically when they are playing. They love to climb fences and grab venomous things, so be sure to secure them.
Love you too! Feel better.
My little sister, my only sister, Heather, passed away suddenly the next day (9/5/14) at 5am from Sudden Cardiac Death. She was only 26 years-old. That was the only answer we ever got. Feeling her last breath was the most haunting thing I think I will ever experience. She had just seemed so alive the evening before, albeit suffering from neck pain. We figured it was just a tension headache.
I will always be thankful for how abnormally well we were getting along the day before. Both of us were mothers and sometimes, we didnt always have a great friendship like we had as kids. Stress can do that to you.
I like to think the universe knew what was coming and wanted to give us that last moment of friendship, sisterhood and love.
The last thing she said to me, Love you, Tabby. She hadnt called me that since she was just a little girl wearing Velcro shoes, pigtails and following me everywhere I went.
This experience has made me realize just how important it is to love like its your last day on this earth. Because you really never know when someone you love could be gone.
My ex girlfriend became my landlady 27 years later. It was a business transaction when I rented a room from her, awaiting keys for a flat I purchased in the same district. She discovered she had cancer, that started from her elbow, to her knee, then kidney, and in 8 months, she was in palliative care, waiting.
Her [well to do] family had abandoned her, so I was there all the way, but she just turned 40 and was fit, so her body refused to quit. Near the end, every night, I would hold her hand and say, its OK babe, dont wait at the station, just grab a ticket. Take that trip you always wanted to the house by the coast.
Ill see you next year then!
I had said that to a friend that I re-established a relationship with last school year. His name was Taylor Simpson. I never realized how much fun we had together until he died. Back in elementary school, we used to love playing with cars and trading them. There was one specific car he gave me in particular that I loved. It was a 66 Chevy Nova. On the day I found out about his death, that boxy muscle car stood out like a sort of beacon. The faded blue racing stripes, and the bumpers that were missing paint in some areas reminded me of how we used to play together all the time.
The last time I saw Taylor was right before summer break. We were in French waiting for the bell, talking about summer plans. I dont really remember much about the conversation, but those final words stuck out in my mind. Mainly because I never saw him again. He switched schools and I didnt pay it much mind.
Then fast forward to April 13, 2017. Im sitting in my Personal Finance class looking over some work we just received when the Principle came on and said Yesterday Taylor Simpson passed away I dont remember much after that because I blanked out. I was saddened, but it didnt really hit me until I got home and saw that Nova sitting in the middle of my Hot Wheels collection (yes Im 17 and I still collect Hot Wheels. Sue me). I didnt cry…but I could surely feel the memories rushing back and some emotions welling up
As I type this, Im sitting next to the thing, thumbing over its details. I remember I traded away my Black Lamborghini Gallardo LP-5604 for this thing. I still dont regret it. I still cant believe hes gone….
Its OK, Dad, you can let go.
My father had kidney cancer for four years before he died, and down to the last day, he would not admit defeat. We knew he was dying, but he seemed to not know it.
Four days before he died, his hospice doctor visited him. She said, I understand you were an attorney?
I am an attorney, my father answered.
I had been spending many hours with him every day for a month, but staying with my brother nearby. This night, I felt I needed to spend the night with him. His hospital bed was set up in his living room, and his wife (my step-mother) slept in their bed in their bedroom, upstairs.
Dad coveted his privacy, and did not want anyone sleeping in the living room with him, but that night he agreed he wanted me there. It felt to me that he knew this could be it.
I placed a camping mattress on the kitchen floor, several steps away from my father, to give him some space, but to be right there if he needed me. I stayed up with him late, and then rested on my mattress when he was ready to go to sleep, but I didnt sleep.
Around midnight he woke in pain, and asked for a dose of morphine, which I gave him. About a half hour later he was quiet again, but his breathing was slowing down.
I sat vigil.
The bed had a triangular bar hanging in front of him, above his chest for my father to use to help him lift himself to a sitting position. Around 2 am he grabbed onto that bar with both hands, and began silently shaking it.
He looked like he was trying to get up and out of bed. My 64 father weighed maybe 100 pounds by then, and he was utterly without strength for the previous two days. I was stunned that he could generate the energy to shake that bar with both hands even for half a minute.
But he kept shaking it.
For a half hour.
I had read that just before people die, they sometimes try hard to get out of bed. It seems they see something they are trying to move toward.
He was intent on his goal, I was nervous to suggest he stop. But after a half hour of this, I reconsidered.
Its OK Dad, you can let go. It was hard to say, but it also felt like the right thing to say.
He didnt look at me. He didnt stop shaking the bar.
For a minute.
Then, like my words had finally reached him, he dropped back, and let go of the bar.
He was completely quiet. His breath slowed and slowed, I was counting the seconds between breaths as they got longer and longer apart. Six seconds between breaths. Seven seconds between breaths.
I expected death to be an obvious shift, a clear distinction from life. It wasnt.
Had he entirely stopped breathing, or had his breaths become so shallow I couldnt see or hear them? I dont know that there was a moment of death any more than there is a single moment of birth. Its a process without clear definitions.
After a few more minutes it was clear he was dead.
I had been right with him when it happened, even if I wasnt sure exactly when that was.
Giving him permission, or perhaps a suggestion, that it was OK to let go, was the last thing I said to him. It was the last thing he needed to hear.
Im glad I was there for him.
I miss him.
In 2013, my police partner and best friend for over 30 years was in home hospice dying from prostate cancer. His wife, our dear friend, allowed me to spend the last 3 days in their home with them, which was the greatest gift anyone has given me. For the prior 9 months we knew he wasnt going to beat it and the two of us had spent many hours over the ensuing months saying all those things that one thinks of when they lose a loved one suddenly and I will always be grateful for that.
Over those final 3 days we were in and around his bedside taking care of him and each other, knowing that each moment may be his last. Each night before I would retire I would hold his hand, look him in the eyes and tell him I loved him and would see him in a few.
The pain meds had long since taken away his ability to speak but we believed he could hear and understand us.
The last night the hospice nurse (who was also his sister in-law) told us it wouldnt be much longer, so everyone but his wife and the nurse moved away to give them these final moments together. Before going upstairs, I held his hand in both of mine, looked him in the eyes and told him I love you brother, I will always have your back. I know you will have mine until I join you.
I went upstairs and cried myself to sleep. A couple of hours later, his wife awakened me with two words: Hes gone. Rest in peace brother, keep watch until we join you.