There have been so many famous last words. Oscar Wilde looked around at the uninspired decor and quipped, “Either the wallpaper goes or I do.”
But most last words aren’t famous. They aren’t witty, or funny, or timely. They’re real, and bizarrely haunting. Just ask these Redditors.
Link to more last words on the last page.
The last words I ever heard my dad speak were on the phone on Thanksgiving night. As we were about to hang up, he stopped me and took a really long pause before telling me he loved me. He started crying as he was saying it, apologizing for not being able to be with me on Thanksgiving (he lived far away) and he told me to hug my mother for him.
The next morning, he died of a heart attack in his sleep. Sometimes I wonder if he knew he was going to die somehow.
My grandmother’s last words, spoken as a nurse was checking on her and accidentally woke her up was, “Good God, you scared the [expletive] out of me!” She went back to sleep and never woke up. She passed about a week later.
I am an ER nurse. I’ve heard a few final words.
One that sticks out to me was a young man (20s) who was in a pretty bad car accident. He had lost a leg and as a result lost so much blood. The last thing he said was pretty much asking his girlfriend if his dog was alright.
The dog had been in the car, and according to his dad didn’t make it. I cried in my car for a while after that shift. He was so worried about his dog that he had no idea how close to death he was.
Critical care nurse here, I had a patient come down from psych with a horrible head injury. Apparently he was smashing his head against the bathroom sink. After a mammoth battle in trying to stabilize him, he started spouting gibberish- fighting through the sedatives, I wasn’t really paying to much attention until I could here him start to sob. He barely opened his eyes and whispered ‘Tell them to stop- its too hot’. He died about an hour after that.
I was trying to patch up a young guy to be medivaced. His body was torn up pretty bad. He was fighting hard to keep going, gasping and asking me to teach him how to pray. Hearing that changed me as a person. I’ve been a lot colder since that.
Nurse here. I have worked in hospice for a while. One of my patients last words were, “Oh momma, I have missed you. I cried.
Working on an inpatient medical floor. This patient was a DNR, alzheimer’s, never actually spoke to me. The last time I drew her labs, she turned to me, looked me dead in the eyes and asked, “Aren’t you going to greet my friends?” and then looked away to the other side of the room. I had never seen her so lucid and it gave me the chills. She died a couple of hours later.
Im a paramedic who has heard too many last words. And these are rarely what you see in movies, where the patient says something then peacefully and quickly dies. Lots of mine have been just before going into cardiac or respiratory arrest, or just deteriorating in general. It’s long-winded and painful to watch.
“This really [expletive] hurts. This was said by a 22-year-old kid who flew off his motorbike after being hit by a truck. He went into shock afterwards and we couldn’t get him back. He was kind of trying to be funny, and that still kinda haunts me.
“I’m glad my wife didn’t have to find my body. An elderly man who suffered severe degree burns. He had fallen asleep while making him and his wife lunch. This one still hurts to think about.
Something I find really interesting is the sort of “phenomenon” of impending doom. The amount of patients I’ve had with myocardial infarction (heart attack), AAA ruptures etc whose last words – or at least one of their last sentences – have been “I think I’m going to die. When you see a patient who looks like theyre in rough shape, sweaty and pale, and they tell you they think they’re going to die… You listen. Because they probably are.
There was a 50-something Vietnam vet who is in the last stages of terminal cancer from Agent Orange. He weighed about 90 pounds , down from 240, and haven’t been able to get up or move on his own for many months. One morning we found him about 50 feet from his bed, and he said he was walking to heaven. We were super freaked out and check security cameras to see if someone had tried to steal him but there was nothing. He said when he got there they gave him the choice of doors, there were five of them. He wanted to go in Door Number 5 comma but they were suggesting door number 4 instead… door number 5 wasn’t ready for him yet so he had to walk back. He said the great thing about heaven is that everyone gets to go. That at some point in your life you’ve done something good for someone else and that’s it, that’s all it takes. That moment completely changed my view on everything. He died a few weeks later when Door Number 5 was ready.
My father-in-law told us he wanted balloons at his wake so it would seem like a party. He told us “cheers, no tears” and that’s the last thing I can remember him saying. We filled the funeral home with colorful balloons.
I’m a nurse. It was just after breakfast. My patient was a little old lady who had been on the ward for ages but could never remember my name and always called me Matt. She had a cardiac arrest in front of me, we started CPR and defibbed her and – the only time I have ever seen this happen – she immediately regained consciousness. She looked directly at me and addressed me by my actual name, saying:
“Alex, I think it was the Vegemite toast.”
She then promptly lost consciousness again and we could not get her back. It is, to date, one of the strangest things that has ever happened to me.
I work in the cardiac ICU. I had a gentleman who had a do not resuscitate order on comfort care. He had dementia and he was cursing like a sailor. He also seemed to have moments of clarity and would ask to see his brothers (who had both passed).
After a particularly worrisome heart rhythm, he went back into a sinus tachycardia, looked me in my eyes, and said, “Hey, whats your name?”
“What do you do here?”
“I’m a nurse.”
After this, he was quiet for some time. Then he said, “[Expletive] you!”
And then he died about 20 minutes later.
“But I don’t know how to get there.” My grandpas last words in hospice care. He hadn’t spoken in days. He died about two hours later.
“Get home safe, little one.” It wasn’t what he said – he said the same thing to me any time I had him as a patient for the evening. It was how he said it. He gave me this look and pause like he knew.
I’m a nurse. I was previously working at an assisted living community on the dementia/Alzheimer’s unit. My very favorite patient had been declining pretty steadily, so I was checking on him very frequently.
We would have long chats and joke around with each other, but in the last two weeks of his life, he stopped talking completely and didn’t really acknowledge conversation directed at him at all.
I finished my medication rounds for the evening and went to see him before I left. I told him I was leaving for the night and that I’d see him the following day. He looked me in the eyes, smiled so genuinely and said, “You look like an angel.” I thought it was so sweet because he had not seemed lucid in weeks.
He died the next morning. It really messed with me.
My grandfather on his deathbed said, They have no eyes. It still give me chills.
I overheard an old lady whisper this to her husband, who was dying of kidney problems.
“You are going to beat this. You got away with murder, this is nothing.”
I dont know whether she meant that literally or not.
I’m an apprentice funeral director. We went to a nursing home to collect a body, and as we were walking down the hall one of the patients got antsy and opened the door to his room as be saw us walking by with the stretcher.
“I’ll see you next week boys,” he said.
And guess who we had to pick up the next week…
My grandfather was on hospice care at home, and for his last two days he told us that he had to go with “the little red-haired girl.” We didn’t know what he was talking about.
When he died, we cleaned him up and called the hospice nurse on duty, who came right over. I happened to be the one to answer the door.
There she stood: 5 foot 2 or so, with gorgeous blue eyes and the most beautiful red hair you’ve ever seen. I couldn’t even manage “hello”, but my grandmother looked around me and said very cheerfully, “Please come in, he’s been waiting for you.”
I’m a registered nurse now but this was when I was an assistant nurse babysitting patients with dementia and mental health issues or falls risks and stuff. This man was huge and burly and had end stage liver failure. He was teary at the beginning of the shift and totally nonsensical. Towards the end he just kept repeating “will you forgive me?” he thought I was his wife. He went to sleep and did not wake up. His wife came in a few hours later and was relieved he was dead. She told me he had been beating her every day since they married 20 years before. I felt really terrible for telling him I forgave him. Some people do not deserve peace.
Young girl (21) just graduated law school, came in with sickle cell chest crisis. Absolutely stunning, very intelligent, good humoured and very chatty. If she wasn’t my patient and we’d met elsewhere I could see us becoming friends.
Deteriorated from a respiratory point of view so we needed to put her in a coma and put her on a ventilator. She was absolutely terrified. I was at the head end holding an oxygen mask on her face whilst the nurses got the required equipment set up. Just before I induced anaesthesia she looked at me and said “I’m not going to die am I, you will look after me?”
“Of course” says I, “I’ll not let anything bad happen to you and we’ll wake you up in a couple of days and your breathing will be much better”.
She arrested as soon as I’d induced her and despite a desperate resuscitation effort I pronounced her dead an hour later.
It’s the only death I’ve had that’s really got to me. Every time someone asks me if they’re going to die or if they’re going to be alright I’m transported back to the point where I realised that girl had lost her cardiac output and my stomach just sinks.
Not an entertaining story I’m afraid but it’s my most memorable case.
Im a respiratory therapy director, a patient of mine said, “thank you for being amazing, you are the only thing that has made dying bearable.” I sat next to his bed many many nights to just talk and keep him company.
I had a mid 80-year-old guy that had end stage fibrotic lung disease. He could not handle being on a bipap and refused to be intubated since he would never come off. I spent a week and a half trying to help him and his family understand that he would not get better, despite everything we were doing. And every day he would say to me, “Fix me.” He died fighting to breath with his family around him. I will never forget that man and hearing “Fix me” when I couldn’t.
During one of my ER clinical for paramedic school we had a 5 year old with some pretty bad trauma from a car accident. We got him somewhat stabilized but still in critical condition so me and the nurse I was shadowing were monitoring him basically 24/7 while we waited for an ICU bed to open up. Out of nowhere the kid sit up, looks me dead in the eyes and says: “I don’t want to die,” then falls back on the bed and goes into v-fib. We worked him for 2 hours, never got a pulse back.
I’ll never forget her. I’d been in nursing for around six months. It was near the beginning of my shift. I’d just finished introducing myself to my new group of patients. One of my patients called me and said, “Get my daughter out of the room. It is time for me to die.”
I was very confused by this at first. I had just gotten out of her room not long ago; I had met the patient and her daughter and we got to joke around a bit. She’d just got up and walked around. The report I’d read on her gave no real indication that she was unstable.
I went to go see her. The daughter was just walking out of the room and I asked what was going on. The daughter was like, “She’s telling me to leave and saying it’s time for her to die. She’s not used to being in a hospital so I’m sure she’s just being hysterical.” I told the daughter I would go check on her. She did not respond to me, had no pulse, and we could not bring her back.
It was so sudden for everyone. The family and staff and I were not expecting this. From the short amount of time I’d spent with her, this woman was a real joy and it was obvious that she was loved and respected by all who knew her. Us nurses and the family all had a cry together.
I think about her last words and wonder how long she knew. She did not sound fearful. Just said it with a voice that told me she knew it was time.
I’m a nurse, and I’ve worked with the elderly for quite some time now.
Most have been silent in their last moments. One old man sighed out a “finally” before he passed on. He just looked so relieved to finally die.
One lady with severe dementia kinda had no idea what was going on. She was pretty out of it, and her last words were that she missed her mother and that she hoped mom would bake bread, because she was hungry.
Another lady was absolutely terrified and I tried my best to calm her down. It’s heartbreaking. You can’t really do anything about fear other than calm them as best as you can. The lady asked me, “Will everything be okay?” I told her that, yeah, everything would be fine. The kids were fine, and everything was fine, and her flowers were watered. She didn’t say anything after that and passed on an hour later.
These werent his last words, but it was his last dad joke.
My father’s doctor: I’m afraid you’ll die soon.
My father: Oh, I can live with that.
Answers edited for clarity.