There’s nothing scarier than reaching the end of the road. We all hope and pray that when our time comes, it will be peaceful and painless—but sadly, that’s not always the case. Here are some deathbed moments that won’t do anything to soothe your anxieties. Buckle up, because these stories expose the even darker side of saying, “goodbye.”
1. Resigned And Done
My dad was in the hospital and found out he had lung cancer. It was him, my stepmom, and a nurse in the room. He told my stepmom to get him something just to get her to leave the room. The nurse said that before she could stop him, he made a drastic decision. He took off his oxygen mask, said “I’m done” and lost consciousness immediately.
He was on life support for a day or so, but he was already gone. When we pulled the plug, his body went in less than five minutes. I guess he really was done.
2. A Heart-Stopping Moment
I once had a man witness his own heart stop. He was having an arrhythmia. I’ll spare you from the gruesome details. Basically, I had the defib turned towards him in the ambulance. He was watching the monitor as I was treating him and his heart stopped cold. He looked at me with panic, put his hand on my knee, and went down. The poor guy literally watched his own heart stop when he passed.
3. The Acceptance Letter
I was an EMT that got a call about a hit and run. The area of the city I worked in was rough. Some guy and his girlfriend had got into a fight in the parking lot, and it ended with the guy running over his girlfriend…then backing up over her. Needless to say, she wasn’t doing well, and her vitals were tanking. We loaded her up, with a fireman with us in the back of the rig.
She kept mumbling, “Tell my mom. Please tell my mom,” and naturally I figured it was her asking us to let her mom know she was hurt. The hospital takes care of that, so I put it out of my mind rather quickly as we were working over her. She flatlined before we arrived. They did not get her back. My partner was finishing up her paperwork and we turned to give her wallet back to the staff.
The nurse on duty, who I knew pretty well, was reading a dirty piece of paper. She looked disgusted. When I asked what was up, she simply put the piece of paperwork down. It was a letter that was picked up near her purse on the scene. She had gotten accepted into a college. I realized then that in the ambulance, she was asking us to tell her mom she got into college.
That is a deep sadness I have never forgotten.
4. Confusion In Hospice
I worked as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home, for just two months, brand new. This gentleman was assigned to my caseload the entire time I had worked there, and was in hospice the whole time, but had seemed to be doing well. This night, I was working with him, and he seemed off. I talked to him and explained what I was doing to care for him, but he just sounded so angry and confused.
I was new to this, so I didn’t know quite what to do, so I pressed on. He got so freaked out—he did the unthinkable: He took his oxygen tubing and tried to wrap it around my throat to choke me. I got away, told the nurse, and was told that confusion and aggression were common when people were dying, he needed his care regardless. I went to care for him again a few hours later, and he looked so docile and defeated.
His eyes filled with tears as he looked at me, and told me, “I’m real sorry for what I did earlier, ma’am, that’s not who I am. I’m so sorry.” I told him it was okay, and that I just wanted to make him comfortable. He thanked me, and said the line, “I’m going home.” He just kept repeating it and sounded so urgent. “I’m going home. I’m going home. I’m going home.” I thought he was still confused…
He passed one and a half hours later, right after my shift was over. I was the one to hear his last words. Upon learning that he passed, I immediately thought of those last words. Sticks with me to this day. This was almost 12 years ago, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
The wife of my acquaintance got covid and she was really sick. Almost all the doctors told them that she wouldn’t make it, so she finally revealed her darkest secret. She confessed that she had been cheating on him for about ten years with one close friend of his and that maybe their last child isn’t his but his friend’s. The lady survived and that poor stupid sucker kept his marriage as if nothing had happened.
6. Breathing On Her Own
I was with my mother when she passed. She needed a high-pressure ventilator to survive as her lungs were so honeycombed. Not enough oxygen getting to her bloodstream. After a lung collapsed, she decided enough was enough and told the nursing team to take her off the high-pressure ventilator and let her try to breathe by herself, knowing full well she wouldn’t be able to.
After some preparation and a load of morphine to help her, they did as she asked. She started to panic almost immediately and grabbed my arm. Her last words were “Help me.” I’ve never felt more helpless. She slipped into an unresponsive state soon after and passed the next day. It was only a couple of years ago but it’s right to talk about these things rather than bottle it up.
7. A Terrible Accident
When I started my job as a railroader, I got told a story of a guy getting caught in between two carriages while shunting a train. He was crushed in a way that all bleeding was stopped, and he was perfectly stable. When the emergency services came, they gave him painkillers and kept him comfortable long enough for his family to come and say their goodbyes.
Once his family had left, he thanked the emergency people and they asked him if he was ready. His last words were, “As ready as I’ll ever be.”
8. Funny Money
I had a friend named Ink that was an ex-con and he ended up moving in with another friend of ours, Brad, who was a printer. Well, these two guys decided to make some fake money and go on a road trip. Well they did it, and when they got back, Ink was contacted by the Secret Service—they “just wanted to talk to him.”
The meeting was set for the local Denny’s. Ink wanted me to wait in a nearby parking lot and watch what went down. I was totally nervous and watching from my car and wondering what was going on in the restaurant. My stomach lurched when the Secret Service guys led Ink out of the restaurant in handcuffs. I watched helplessly as they drove him away.
Ink frantically called me quite a few times from Federal prisons while he was being transported. He kept telling me to tell Brad not to worry, that he’d take the fall and do the time. But nobody could find Brad: he’d disappeared. Officers finally located him, kicked his door in, and found him. He wasn’t breathing. He’d taken his own life—but that’s not the craziest part.
Brad had left a suicide note and in it, he confessed and took all of the blame and said Ink had nothing to do with it. The courts considered this a deathbed confession and Ink was set free. Crazy stuff.
9. Reconciling The Past
I was working in a hospital at the time. There was a spiritual, non-religious man I had a good connection with. He requested me to his room, so I came over. He motioned me to crouch by his bed and spoke in a whisper: “Do you see my brother in the corner?” I told him I don’t, but I believe he is seeing him. He was completely lucid and calm as he explained he has been in the corner and he has been talking with him, hashing things out, and coming to forgiveness like they weren’t able to do before the brother passed.
He worried the nurses would think he was crazy and try to medicate him. When I assured him I believed him and just wanted to listen to what he had to say, he revealed the eeriest part of all: “I see Death, too. She was in the parking lot; I could see her from my window. She had my brother with her. Now she’s in the room. She’s all black but… she ain’t ugly.” He was totally at peace. Went a few days later when a tumor invaded an artery.
10. Dignity Discourse
A young woman in her 20s comes in with an infected heart. Her infection and heart failure are pretty much past the point of recovery. Her only option was IV antibiotics, hope they work, and plan for hospice care. Her IV lowered the infection but the heart and valve damage were extensive. It was so extreme that the heart was producing micro-clots.
After the micro-clots, her fingertips went purple and clots migrated to her lungs. When she arrived in my ICU ward she was struggling to breathe. At this point, she decides to fill out a DNR or Do Not Resuscitate and move into hospice care. Unfortunately, our state has a loophole where if the patient becomes unresponsive their proxy can change the DNR. Sadly, the worst happened.
Her mom went to court and was granted healthcare proxy rights. This meant once the daughter was disoriented, her medical decisions belonged to her mother. The first thing her mom did was cancel the DNR, and our team was forced to put her on life support. This lasted for months and her arms and legs became purple, black, green, then necrotic.
Her organs were failing and the clots had traveled to her brain. She was unresponsive and we knew it shouldn’t be prolonged. We took the case to risk management, we held ethics meetings, and we went to court against the mother to revoke her healthcare proxy to fight for the patient’s right to die with dignity. The court refused and mom stayed in control.
11. Crazy About Owls
My great-grandmother lived a very long and interesting life. She was in her 20s during the great depression. Over the course of her nearly 100-year life, she had collected owls. Literally thousands of owl figurines. She had clocks, wall-hangings, potholders, lamps, stained glass art, salt shakers, and more little figurines than you could imagine, all depicting owls.
We all wondered about the importance of the owls. She never talked about them, and we just all assumed she loved owls. Well, when she was nearing the end of her life, at the age of 98 or 99, and the docs said she had days, my grandparents went and talked to her, and they asked her if she had anything she wanted to share or ask before she goes.
She thought for a moment, then said, “I never understood the owls.” It turns out, she didn’t really care at all about owls. Near as we could piece together, sometime in the 40s or 50s perhaps, she bought either a trivet or a set of salt and pepper shakers that were owls. Then someone got her the other. Those were the oldest owls anyone could remember.
But from there, someone got her an owl to match, probably a potholder or placemat. And all of a sudden, her kitchen was owl-themed. From there, it snowballed. The owls flowed like a river, baffling her for 60 years, eventually taking over as the bulk of her personal belongings.
12. The Son Who Never Visited
So, I was adopted by a rich family. This couple already had a biological son, who was much older than me. But there was something totally weird about the son. He never visited my adoptive parents. I always wondered why. Eventually, my adoptive father told me that his son had tried to kill him. I was beyond shocked—but there was more.
Fast forward a year later, and my father is in the hospital. He recently suffered an undisclosed accident and the only people with him were me and my adoptive mother. My mother asks why their son hasn’t come and my father starts to tell her why. It turns out, he’d been hurting his son since he was five. My mother was shocked and ran out crying.
I witnessed the entire conversation. Ninety-one minutes later, my father was gone.
Lad comes in after a car accident. His work van had flipped and rolled. The fella was wheeled in fully conscious, no pain or disorientation. However, his lower half was something straight out of a horrifying hospital drama. He was completely twisted in half from the midsection down. There was no way he would survive “untwisting,” but the blood vessels must’ve been cinched in such a way that he didn’t bleed out.
The doctors and nurses explained the situation to him and suggested his family come to say goodbye. He looked like he was lounging on the couch watching TV with a blanket over his lower half. Once the realization set in, he replied with, “How will I explain this mess?”
14. The Other Family
Right before he kicked the bucket, my great uncle made a crazy confession: He admitted to having two illegitimate sons right in front of his own children and grandchildren. The crazy thing was that none of his children knew this life of his. Not even my great aunt knew about it because she would have made a huge fuss if she was alive at that time and knew. But that wasn’t the wildest part.
Sadly, his two sons already passed five and seven years before him respectively. He was 98 years old, and his “invisible” sons had been 65 and 69 years old. The children found out that one of his invisible sons actually was a teacher at a school that his granddaughters attended when they were in high school. Nevertheless, his children decided to reach out to the children of his invisible sons.
They connected and learned even more things about my grand uncle. The weirdest part was that I actually dated one of the granddaughters of one of the invisible sons. Talk about a few degrees of separation!
15. I C U Didn’t Leave
I was doing security at a hospital when one day a nurse saw a guy on the camera who was on his deathbed. The guy kept saying, “I will not die in a hospital.” Earlier that day, he had pushed his curtain aside and walked out of his room toward the elevator. A code was called and everyone immediately posted at their designated locations.
Within seconds there were people watching the elevators and stairs, and security started combing the area. As I reached the ICU floor I spoke with the head nurse, and she told me several of the nurses saw him leave. At that moment the monitors started going off. The guy never left. He went code blue and passed right then, yet there were three witnesses on the report who said he got up and left.
16. In The Arms of Their Lover
I had an old uncle who refused to die until his lifelong mistress came to see him. When he was in a new country he met an amazing woman, but when he went home to visit an arranged marriage was set for him and his father was ill so he ended up staying and having kids. He later immigrated back with his new family and found his old love had never moved on.
He never stopped loving her either. They got back together. Both women knew of each other but never met. His kids called her aunty and knew of her but never met her. On his deathbed he kept on fighting to live, his son asked him if he wanted to see aunty and his eyes grew as he tried to communicate yes. The son called aunty to let her know he was dying. She said she knew and was waiting in her car out in the parking lot. Aunty came to see him and within five minutes he passed in her arms.
17. Reunited At The End
When my grandma was dying, we had her at home. I stayed up with her at night to check on her and keep her comfortable. A couple of days before she passed, she sat bolt upright in bed stretched out her arms, and screamed “Daddy!” in the most excited and childish voice. Her father had passed in an accident when she was a child. She then laid back down and never opened her eyes or spoke again.
She was gone a couple of days later. I am convinced when she called out it was because her dad came to get her, and after that, it was just a body taking time to shut off.
18. A Sad Night
I worked as a night janitor in the children’s cancer ward at my local hospital. There was a little boy laying in bed and he called me into his room because he wanted help adjusting his pillow. He was hooked up with wires and stuff, so he couldn’t roll over to place the pillow how he wanted. Figuring I’d be allowed to do it since a nurse wasn’t really needed for it, I parked my cart outside of the room and went in.
In the room, he started asking me different questions about my job. The first being, “Are you a nurse?” I said, “No.” He asked me if I had seen his mom in the hallway and told me that she’d gone down to the cafeteria to get him strawberry milk and a donut, I said no to that too. He was quiet for a second. Then he looked me right in the face and said, “If I pass soon, I hope that my mom is not sad.”
That hit me. Like really, really hard. This kid was 100 percent aware that he could die, and his mother would be affected by it. I didn’t even know how to feel so I told him that he wasn’t going to pass away, and hundreds of people survive cancer. I left shortly after and broke down crying in the bathroom. A few days later, I was wiping down the wooden support railings along the walls of that hallway—and noticed something absolutely heartbreaking…
His room was “closed for cleaning + disinfection.” That sign is only hung outside of rooms when someone passes.
19. Christmas Eve Confession
So, one Christmas Eve, my grandmother was very sick and in hospital. She called my mom and grandfather into the hospital room. I believe they had a conversation that included the words, “You’re not allowed to die on Christmas and ruin it for the kids.” Because she was kind of awful. But it turns out that my grandmother had something more important to confess.
My grandmother confessed to my mother that she was not, in fact, her mother. The funny thing is, my mom already suspected this. She looks exactly like her father’s second wife—and so do her kids, me included! My mom had asked her a few dozen times in her life if she was the second wife’s. She was always told: “No, no, you’re definitely mine.”
So how did this happen? Honestly, no one knows. Everyone involved in the decision has been gone half a decade or longer, and to say the family dynamics were complicated would be an understatement. The best guess I have was it was either a “pretend you didn’t have a child outside of the marriage” deal, as they were Catholic.
Or maybe it was some other reason that probably wouldn’t play out today. So, who knows?
20. Bottled Up Emotions
I’m a CNA going to school to be a nurse and I work in a nursing home. The most haunting thing I ever heard was from a resident we had who was the strong and silent type. We always had to basically pry answers out of him because he grew up in a time where men just shrugged things off, and expressing issues was just complaining in their eyes.
When he was nearing the end, I worked an overnight where he was awake, which was not normal for this guy. He slept through the night every other time I had worked with him. Towards the end of the night, around 4 am, he starts hollering out for us to come help. Working in a nursing home you usually think “fall,” so we grabbed our vitals cart and a mechanical lift and when we opened the door he was just laying in bed.
I flipped on the light to see if maybe he injured himself and I can remember clear as day the expression on his face. His eyes were wide with tears streaming down each side of his face as he stared mouth wide open towards the ceiling. A man I always equated to kind of an old-school dad was laying there trembling with his hands clenched deeply into the comforter.
I walked up to him and asked what was wrong, kind of hoping maybe it was a night terror but when I got close, he grabbed my scrub pocket and pulled me as close as possible, and wrapped his arms around me. He sobbed into my shoulder for what seemed like forever, just repeating, “I don’t want to go.” We gave him Ativan and morphine not too long after, and he was gone before my shift was done.
21. Tell Us How You Really Feel
One of my patients at the hospice where I was working was a bed-bound woman in her 90s. Sadly, she was generally unresponsive but she occasionally had flashes of recognition and engagement. It’s hard to gauge the level to which unresponsive patients are detached from their surroundings, so they encourage family members to keep their company in hopes of soothing the patient.
Now this patient was from a US state that prided itself on its state university—and the university’s football team. The woman’s family had attended this university for four or five generations. You could call it a family tradition that everyone attended this university and it would be a big deal if someone decided to attend somewhere else.
Well, that’s exactly what happened. During her hospice care, my patient’s great-granddaughter was the first in their family to decide to go to a different school—the rival state’s university, in fact. Her family was supportive of her decision but often joked about her being the “rebel” or “Judas” or what-have-you. One day, they were all sitting around the woman’s bedside, teasing the girl about her decision to go to the rival school.
Suddenly, the patient sat up, looked at her great-granddaughter, and said: “Traitor.” She then closed her eyes and that was it.
22. I Want To Be Friends
I was taking care of a patient who was expected to discharge that day. They suffered an unexpected massive stroke and passed despite everything we did to save him. Once things settled down, we attempted to locate family members or friends to contact. This patient was between homes, a very clean, nice man, who was a recent immigrant from Asia.
We couldn’t find any contacts for anyone to notify of his passing. As we went through his wallet, we made the most devastating discovery. We found handwritten cards he had made to hand out to others, with his email address, and a message saying: “Can we make friends?” I walked straight to the bathroom and started crying. This happened just a couple of weeks after I had tried to save the life of a neighbor who had been hurt, who also passed, and it was all just too much for me.
It was already sad that this nice man had no one for us to call, when I read those cards, it absolutely broke my heart.
23. All The Hits
So, this happened a couple of years ago. We had an ex-gang member who was dying of cancer, and he confessed that he was the gang hitman for many years. He wanted to confess to all the hits and show the investigators where the bodies were buried. He felt like he’d get closure knowing that the surviving families of his victims would find out where they are.
We had to get the hospital law team involved because we had no policies to deal with that. Detectives got involved, and the dude confessed to gang murders from decades ago.
24. Words That Count
When my grandpa was passing, he was in full-blown sundowners. He wasn’t coherent, couldn’t really speak except in the early mornings, and was hallucinating all sorts of things like late family members and stuff. Most of his communication was just paranoia about the nurses trying to hurt him and awful stuff like that. I was a young teen, so my mom didn’t really want me to be around him when he was like this.
The last time I saw him, something clicked on in his head. It was like he fought through the cloud of unreality in his head and made direct eye contact with me and grabbed my hand. “Determination, that’s what’s important,” is all he said, but it was like he knew it was the last time he would see me. It was like someone said, “Alright you’ve got four words, make them count.”
Immediately after that, he went back to a semi-vegetative state and started mumbling. He left not long after that, and those words have pulled me through some of my toughest days. It was like the last lesson he had for me, and he had to tell me this. It took me a long time to really understand those words, but I made it. Thanks, grandpa. You were the best.
25. Long Lost Brother
I met a lady on a train to Edinburgh who was really nervous because she was on the way to meet her brother for the first time in 70 years. Her parents had told her that he perished when he was one, but they’d given him away because they couldn’t afford so many kids. She didn’t find out he was still alive until her mother confessed it on her deathbed.
26. The Difference A Letter Makes
A nurse assisting in the imaging center obtained an order for an anti-anxiety medication called Versed to be given to a patient getting an MRI. This patient had issues with claustrophobia, so this was necessary to obtain good images with the patient. The nurse went to search for the drug in the pyxis machine. Then it went so, so wrong.
So she has to type the medication name in like a Google search in the screen to pull the drug. She types in only “Ve,” which pulls up relevant substances by alphabetical order, and without looking, she clicked the first medication and gave it to the patient. Almost immediately, the patient suffocated and passed, right there on the spot. It was only afterward they found out what happened.
When the nurse typed “ve,” the first medication alphabetically wasn’t Versed, it was Vecuronium. The difference being an anti anxiety medication versus a paralytic medication, which paralyzed them while conscious and suffocated them.
27. At Least She’s Supportive
Just before my aunt passed, my older brother confessed to her that I was gay. She called me in and explained how our family has been through so much and that she was willing to totally accept me for who I am. I think that is great of her to be that open-minded. Except there was one huge problem: I’m not gay. She never believed me because my brother had “confessed” it.
28. Not to The Taste
Me and all of my cousins were gathered around my grandfather’s hospice bed as he lay dying. Each and every one of my cousins gave him a kiss and tried to talk to him/said they loved him, etc. But he wouldn’t respond to any of them, just started. Until I came up. I sat on the edge of his bed, holding his hand. Everyone was watching us.
He looked at me and said, “I don’t like Mexican food.” And that was it.
29. End Of The Stories
I had a patient whose memory had been fading for years. It’s weird, right before a patient passes, sometimes they’ll suddenly be doing a lot better. Anyway, he thought I was his late wife. I played along and just listened to him while he recalled his engagement, his wedding, his first child’s birth, and a few other memories for me.
At one point, he said something that absolutely broke my heart: “Oh! Irene, there you are! Sorry, you know my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be. Well, thank you for listening to an old man tell his stories. I hope you have great stories to tell one day too. I’m coming, Irene.” And then he passed. He was my first long-time patient.
30. The Final Lesson
I had to tell my grandmother that dialysis would only give her another week or so to live and it was her choice to try or not. She was in and out of consciousness at that point and was in a clear state for the moment. She asked, “Will I die?” I said, “Yes.” She looked me in the eye and smiled just a little and said, “Sometimes you gotta do what you don’t want to do.”
She closed her eyes, squeezed my hand, and slept until she passed a day later. When things get hard, I always hear her say, “Sometimes you gotta do what you don’t want to do.”
My grandfather was on his deathbed and it was obvious he was nearing the end. He motioned my mother over to tell her something. She went over, leaned in close, expecting some declaration of his love for her or something deeply insightful. He said, “The good family silverware is hidden in the ventilation system about 15 feet out from the furnace.”
She looked at him like he was crazy. He said, “What!! We travel a lot and that’s where I hid it. That stuff’s expensive!”
32. A Secret Sibling?
A couple of days before my grandmother passed, she was really confused and was talking about my mother having a child a year or so after my own birth that was sent for adoption. She was talking about how sad and horrible this was and that I deserved to know. After my grandmother passed, I confronted my mom about it, but she didn’t admit anything. A couple of months later, I found out the harrowing truth.
It was actually my grandmother who put a baby girl up for adoption who was born to one of her children. I still don’t know if it was my mom or my aunt.
33. Spirits In The Street
During the last few months of her life, my great grandmother would sleep on the couch instead of her bed. Her reason was terrifying. She kept saying that “the lady” was sleeping in her bed. She also saw a campground in her back yard and would constantly ask my grandmother if she should cook dinner for the campers. But the hallucinations didn’t end there.
She also told my grandmother to call the city to get them to get the cat out of the street. There was no cat in the street. There were also people she saw living in her car. Hearing her talk about this stuff was strange to say the least. We didn’t understand it, but we just let her talk.
34. Talking Over Tea
I looked after a guy with end-stage heart failure. He kept having episodes where if he coughed or leaned forward—anything to increase his intrathoracic pressure—he would pass out. He would come back after a few minutes and gradually go from purple back to pink. “How long was I out for that time?” He was fully mentally fine—sharp, witty, and at peace with what was going to eventually happen to him.
He and I were joking that one of these episodes was going to end him as he sipped his tea and we talked rubbish. Five minutes later it happened again, and he didn’t come back. He had a DNR order, which was sensible. Very eerie to talk to somebody so vibrant and alert minutes before he went. Such a nice dude, I want to be in that mindset when I go too.
35. Gather The Stars
My aunt had cancer. She knew she was going to die and she knew it would probably be in less than a week. She couldn’t eat and drinking was hard. She wanted to be sedated heavily and kept asleep permanently, essentially for the last few days because, “this whole dying thing sucks and I’ve had more than enough.” So fair enough, a doctor is called up, a plan is made and carried out.
The last thing my aunt said before going under for the rest of her life was, “Ah, I see the stars, they’re sweet and run carefree. Gather them up.” And that’s when she went under. She passed three days later. Nobody knows what she meant. But somehow, those last words fit her, so her husband got them tattooed on his chest, over his heart.
36. Big Announcement
My grandfather was in the hospital in a pretty nasty state. He barely could speak, but he made it clear to us he had something to say. He had my mother get him a piece of paper and a pen. Thinking he has some important words to leave us with in case he doesn’t have the chance later, my mom does just that. There’s silence in the room as he scribbles something onto the paper, with my mother and her two siblings waiting in anticipation.
My grandfather finishes, and with a big smile turns the paper for us to see. “I’ve got a girlfriend,” it read, as he pointed to Anna, a neighbor and friend of his. The goofball ended up pulling through and living several more years.
37. Relationship Regrets
My mother ran a nursing home growing up. From when I was five to ten, I spent every weekend with residents. Because I was a kid, residents often confessed stuff they thought I wouldn’t understand. One woman I met was maybe about 96. Even had her last burst of energy where she thought she was better. A Black delivery man came with some flowers.
After he left, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I can’t believe I’m dying without having been with a colored man.”
38. Sudden Clarity
I’m not sure where I stand in terms of religion, but my grandmother was deeply religious. She had been deaf for over 70 years. She talked like a deaf person and sang like a deaf person. We had her at home, and she passed in her bed. But two minutes before she passed, she sat up in bed screaming at the top of her lungs: “They’re here! They’re here!” But that wasn’t the creepiest part.
She also said it in the clearest, nondeaf voice. She then started singing a gospel song. She passed about halfway through the song. I will never forget it. I have no earthly explanations for how she sang and talked so clear at the end. I have been with many patients, and usually, there isn’t anything that happens. They usually stop talking and responding altogether, and they just have the agonal breathing at the end. Nothing like when my grandmother passed.
39. Too Little, Too Late
My best friend was in her late 20s and was feeling constant irritation in her stomach. She went to see several doctors over the course of almost three years, and they all dismissed her saying she just had an irritable bowel. She would try a new diet every few months, but nothing helped. One day, she calls me and tells me she broke her ribs.
She didn’t know how it happened, but she started having horrible pain and her doctor said her ribs must be fractured. Long story short, it wasn’t fractured ribs. At some point when the pain became too much to bear, she went to the ER and got a CT. The results were absolutely devastating. It turns out that she had stage four colon cancer with four-inch tumors in her abdomen that were compressing her organs and causing the pain.
It took her life a few months later. She’d been seeing doctors about her symptoms for three years. If just one of them had taken her concerns seriously and sent her to get a colonoscopy, she’d probably still be alive today. It’s disturbing, but sadly not surprising, to see that there are so many similar stories to this one.
If you feel like something is off with your body, trust your instincts, and don’t listen to doctors who try to tell you otherwise! The cancer may have taken her life, but the real reason for her passing was apathy.
40. Stomach-Churning Secret Ingredient
My great aunt passed a couple of years ago. She was suffering from viral encephalitis and fluctuated in and out of consciousness. It was truly painful to watch. Although a lot of family tended to be around her in those last days, I once happened to be alone with her—and she made some fairly odd remarks. On the day in question, I was playing games on my phone in her hospital room when she started to audibly mutter to herself.
It became more urgent and intense, and eventually, she explicitly called me to her side. Her eyes looked huge and confused, I doubt she knew who I was. She spat out her words, most of which were barely comprehensible, putting particular emphasis on “boy” and “ingredient.” I sat there for 15 minutes, listening to her erratic account of, as I finally gathered, how she sometimes used to cook eggs in the urine of a stable boy instead of water.
She insisted that he was handsomely compensated for his services, but now and then, she started to cry and couldn’t stop. I googled these weeks later, and there indeed exists a traditional dish described in the West as Virgin boy egg. Apparently, this concept had fascinated her, and she frequently recreated this herself and served it to her family without explaining what it was.
I am not sure if she felt shame or enthusiasm about this; she often stammered something about “the secret ingredient,” but it quite obviously haunted her towards the very end of her life.
41. Getting Permission
This was during my final year as a medical student, I was working an internship. It was late and we were doing our last rounds for the night, right before the shift change. There was an elderly gentleman who came from an at-home hospice with stage 4 cancer. COVID had limited family visits to short, short increments. The family often had to wait in the lobbies or go back home until another visiting time slot was opened.
He held on for a few days. When we were alone, we had spoken during moments of his lucidity. He had expressed his guilt over the pain his dying was causing to his loved ones. He looked at me with a weak but genuine smile every time I asked if he was ok. He never once complained of pain. He even outright denied pain medication when offered. His reasoning was that someone else would need it and not him.
We all knew he was hurting. But on that last night, he said to me: “I want this to be my final lesson to my family. I want to show them how to die with dignity.” A few moments later, he asked me if I could say to him it was ok to go. To find peace and rest. He said he couldn’t bear the thought of his family seeing him like this. He wanted to hold on because he was his family’s whole support system. But he finally said his pain was too much.
He was ready to pass. I told him that he didn’t need to keep fighting for his family’s comfort. If he was truly in pain and ready to go, it would be ok. His family would understand. Once I gave him the “Ok,” he started the process. Delirium, heavy breathing, and fidgeting. And then he was gone. He was such a great man, a kind, and gentle soul. I didn’t know him for long, but I genuinely miss the man. Rest In Peace, Sir.
42. Asleep At The Wheel
There was a story pretty recently in the hospital I work for, where a cardiologist in the ER was doing a rather difficult nightshift and started feeling light-headed, dizzy, and fatigued. Those shifts are pretty intense. They can sometimes last more than 26 hours, sometimes multiple times a week. Because of that, nobody thought much of it when this doctor said he wasn’t feeling well.
The doctor in question went to catch a quick nap in the staff room. People passed by him in the staff room every once in a while, but they just assumed the poor guy was exhausted and let him rest. They all saw him lying there though, and didn’t do anything about it. Later, they realized the awful truth. Believe it or not, even surrounded by all those doctors, the poor guy was deceased for several hours by the time someone realized that something wasn’t right.
43. Murphy’s Law
I’m a surgery resident. For the non-medical people, I’m a doctor who’s in the middle of a 5-8 year surgery training after medical school. This was not my mistake, but a mistake of a mentor of mine who I consider one of the best surgeons in terms of surgical technique, warm bedside manner, and as a teacher. A healthy young patient with acute appendicitis was booked for an appendectomy.
This is a minimally-invasive operation commonly performed every day for removing the appendix through three small incisions, followed by placing special ports through the incisions to allow the instruments to go in your belly. Before placing the ports, we inflate your belly with CO2 like a balloon to make space for the ports.
Each of these ports has a pointy javelin-looking thing so it can enter the abdomen. The first one goes around your belly button. The second goes somewhere below the belly button. The third one goes somewhere on your left side of the belly. In my mentor’s case, the first port went in smooth, but upon placement of the second port, the javelin point went through into an artery, and also into the vein underneath it.
Vascular Surgery was called in for an emergency. The abdomen was opened up, and the vascular team tried to repair the injury. The patient coded from massive blood loss and eventually passed after many hours of CPR, resuscitation, and transfusion. The loss affected everyone in the Surgery department, not just my mentor. It was devastating…
44. I Need To Get Home
My grandfather was put into a 24/7 care home with severe Parkinson’s. My mom and grandma had spent four years basically taking care of him constantly and needed a break for a couple of weeks. I went one day, alone, and he looked me straight in the eye and said, “I need you to get me home so I can pass, I can’t do it here.” I tried saying everything I could to the nurses and my family to get him home without saying what he told me.
24 hours later he got rushed to the ER. As he was dying, he looked at me and said, “Don’t let it bother you,” and passed. It still bothers me.
45. Slipping Away
I was an EMT for four years. My worst call was a 20-year-old who was in a head-on collision. Due to the high impact speed, his car was wrapped around him, and he was hopelessly trapped. A piece of the car had impaled into his stomach, and he had several other injuries. He was losing a lot of blood. When we got there, he was awake and alert, and in a lot of pain.
All we could see of him was his head and part of his shoulder. He was calm at first, and we were talking to him, just trying to keep him awake while the local volunteer fire department tried to extract him. As time went on, he lost more and more blood and he started to slip out of it. He just started talking about how scared he was.
All I could do was hold his shoulder and tell him I was here, and that I wasn’t going anywhere. The fire department couldn’t get him out. I watched him pass, and there was nothing we could do.
46. The Nick
I’m not a surgeon, but I can tell you about one. My mother-in-law had a bad fall while on vacation in Florida and had to have hip surgery. During the surgery, they nicked her bowels without realizing it—until almost two days later when she started complaining of abdomen pain and her blood pressure started dropping. The worst came true.
By then she was already septic, went into a coma, and they couldn’t save her. The hospital declared her passing was from natural causes. We only know otherwise because my husband’s family hired someone to do an autopsy before they cremated her body.
47. What A Meatball
I had a grandpa who was from Sicily, and he really prided himself on his cooking skills. He would make elaborate meals for us—from scratch—and they were really delicious. My whole family loved them. My personal favorite was his Italian meatballs. Years later, on his deathbed, he told us that his meatballs were actually frozen and from the grocery store.
48. A Grandfather’s Guidance
When my sister was on her deathbed, she would point and ask who the people were in her room when no one else was there. Then I’d see her having conversations with these invisible people. I finally asked her what she was talking about and with who? Her response chilled me to the bone. She said she was talking to our late grandfather. He told her he was there to help her cross over.
She told him she wasn’t ready to go. He said to her that it has to be her decision and when she’s ready to take his hand he will guide her across.
49. Quietly Caring
My dad had Alzheimer’s and ended up in a secure ward. He was blind and almost deaf. I was visiting him one day. He didn’t know who I was, but he started talking about me. I was shocked. He said I had done better than him in life and that he was proud of me. He was a quiet man my whole life and had never told me that when I was growing up.
Looking back, he did things that I never realized were for me. For example, when he retired back in the 1970s, his colleagues asked what he’d like as a present. He chose a scientific calculator. He had no use for it. He gave it to me for university. I thought he was just passing it on, not realizing that he’d asked for it with me in mind.
50. She’s Here
My grandfather was dying of cancer. He was 90. Our entire family would sit with him in his own home, tending to him in shifts, making sure everyone had alone time with him and all made him feel needed and loved during his passing. Gramps would regularly point to a spot where no one was and say, “Hello, Hazel, they are all here again.” And then smile. Or he’d say, “Yes, dear, that’s Linda’s little girl.”
Hazel was his wife, my grandmother, who had deceased two decades prior. The chilling bit was that Grandpa would then turn to us and say, “Oh, I forget you can’t see her.”
51. Blessing in Disguise
My grandma confessed to my mom when she thought she was dying that she tried to coat hanger abort her. Obviously it was unsuccessful. My grandma was a religious woman, and decided that God wanted her to have this baby, and treated my mom like her favorite child. This messed my mom up for a while, and that wasn’t even the worst part. It got 10 times more awkward when my grandma surprisingly got better.
After Grandma expired for real, my mom eventually made peace with it. After she was born, Grandma never treated her like she was unwanted, so mom understood she was in a vulnerable place at the time.
52. I Didn’t Mean To
We were sending this middle-aged guy home after his ER visit. As soon as we moved him off the bed, he became unresponsive and had no heartbeat. We did a couple of rounds of CPR, and he began to come to. He blinked a couple of times and the doctor running the code jokingly said, “Sir, you almost left us!” The man said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to” in a sad way. That was the last thing he ever said.
His heart then stopped again and we couldn’t get him back. It was most likely a saddle pulmonary embolism. He was there for something pretty mild, but he threw a clot right when he was being transferred. He had classic cape cyanosis across his chest, which is indicative of a big pulmonary embolism.
53. The Last Lunch
In my first semester of nursing school, we were placed in a long-term care unit in the hospital. I met an elderly gentleman who barely spoke. He slept for most of the day, and never had any visitors either. Every time I walked by his room he was just sitting there, like a piece of furniture. The unit was so busy there was never any extra time to spend with the patients.
I walked by his room around lunch and noticed his tray had been delivered but it hadn’t been unpacked, and he was staring at it. I came into the room, sat on his bed, and fed him through my lunchtime. He didn’t speak. He ate about 80% of the tray, taking his time. When he was finished, I cleaned his mouth and tidied his bed. As I was leaving the room, he looked at me, and with all of his energy and might, he smiled at me.
Then in the feeblest voice I’ve ever heard he said, “Thank you.” He ended up passing a few days later. I’ve thought about him almost every single day since then.
54. Disorderly Confessions To The Orderly
I have worked at a hospital in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a small town near Munich for the last 14 years. My job there is not fancy at all. I do things like moving people around and throwing the trash out. Occasionally I take care of some handy-man type work. You know, like fixing a leaking shower head and stuff like that.
As you can imagine, I get to see a lot of patients that come and go, some of them pass away (such is life, I guess). I remember a few instances of people confessing to me their biggest regrets. One was an old truck driver that used to work for an Eastern German company. He told me that he once ran over some kids with his truck and was too afraid to stop and check if they were okay.
Once, a Polish lady told me that she used to be a “lady of the night” and that she slept with “very high up” people in the government. She told me that she did not regret that part of her life, but that she could not tell anyone and that was a heavy emotional drag.
55. God’s Plan
My gramma’s brother was in his final moments and he confessed to his wife that he was cheating her a lot, with three other women. He confessed because he was afraid of going through misery after his passing, but it looked like God had other plans for him. Unfortunately for him, and no one knows why, in a blink of an eye he got better and better, until one week later he was released by the doctors. His wife’s brother was a lawyer, they issued him and got almost everything.
He lived for seven more years without any money and all the women and their children abandoned him, so he perished alone at home.
56. The Dog’s Omen
I’ve written about this before, but I’m a palliative nurse and there is this trend I’ve noticed. Sometimes when people are in the process of dying, they can become delirious and hallucinate. I’ve heard from at least five people that they are scared of “the dog” in the room and they want me to remove it. Like completely different people in completely different rooms over the span of two years telling me to take the dog out of the room because they don’t like it staring at them.
57. Listening To The End
I’m a nursing student in Canada, and on my palliative rotation, I had a patient that was getting medically assisted dying the next day. He was an elderly cancer patient. He told me he was a “self-ordained minister, nothing official —but an at-home type preacher” and that I could confess to him anything I wanted. I humored him and whispered to him some of my biggest secrets.
He told me it was alright, and I could tell he appreciated that I confided in him. He also told me his email address and said that while he would not be sending emails in return, he would be receiving them. He was a cool guy.
58. Best of Both Worlds
My mom and her dad both grew up believing and hearing stories from my great-grandmother about how she was the daughter of a Cherokee woman who ran off and joined the circus. It was a good tale. My great-grandmother taught all of us rain dances and other cultural things. All of her decor and style was Cherokee-inspired. She even physically looked Native American. My older cousin even got some college grant based on being 1/16th Native American.
On my great-grandmother’s deathbed, she tells my grandpa that she made all of it up. Turns out her mother was really just a woman of European descent who slept around with other men in her neighborhood and dumped my great-grandmother in an orphanage.
59. Anything But a Teacher!
I come from a family of teachers. My grandmother was a teacher, my mother was a teacher, my father was a principal, and four of my grandmother’s sisters were teachers. On my grandfather’s deathbed, he called me over, grabbed my hand, and said to me “Kasper-X-Hauser, whatever you do, don’t waste your life and become a teacher!”
60. Who’s The Favorite?
My grandparents have three daughters. Everyone always said that my mom was my grandfather’s secret favorite, but he never agreed with them. I heard he was on his deathbed on April 6th and went to see him on April 8th. He was looking really scary and unwell, and the doctor kept saying he didn’t understand why he hadn’t passed yet.
On April 9th, everyone but my mom had the chance to come and say goodbye. She doesn’t drive and my dad works 10 hours away. My grandpa kept saying her name in a whisper to the nurses, so my mom came by on the 10th. He looked at her, smiled, and whispered “My Amy.” Amy is my mother’s name. He closed his eyes and never opened them again.
61. At The Head Of The Parade
I used to plan fundraising events and held a candlelight memorial walk around our Hospice House campus every year. One year, there was a hospice patient in the house in her final hours. She told all of her family, “Don’t worry, I’m leading the parade today.” As she passed later that day, her family saw us setting up. When we told them what we were doing, they all started to laugh and cry.
They brought her photo out with them that night as they led the procession.
62. The Last Email
My stepfather emailed me the night he passed. In general, he was always in pain from chemo, cancer, medication, and whatnot. He did not want us to continue spending money as he wasted away. He asked me to never tell the rest of the family: “I’m taking all my sleeping pills tonight after your Mom goes to bed. With luck, she’ll never know the truth. It would break her.”
63. Let The Boat Sail
Before my grandma from my mom’s side passed, she had spent at least three weeks in a semi-conscious or more like a quasi dream state before finally dying. Her house was on a lake and her deathbed was in a room that overlooked it. During those weeks, she would constantly tell my mother that a boat was waiting for her and asked if it was all right if she could get on it.
This persisted, along with my grandmother having full conversations with relatives who were gone years before I was even born, until one day when my grandma asked my mother if it would be alright if she could leave on the boat again, to which my mother finally replied with, “It’s alright if you want to.” My grandma departed a couple hours later.
Eerie little tidbit, my grandmother’s watch, which was in another room at the time of her demise, stopped at the exact time of my grandmother’s passing. Apparently, it’s pretty common for weird stuff to happen around the time of passing for people in my family. When an uncle who I never met perished, a car of his that hadn’t worked for years suddenly turned on.
And when my grandma from my dad’s side expired, the doorbell at my parents’ gate rang but no one was standing there.
64. Everything Is Taken Care Of
My great grandfather was in his mid-90s when he went. His health was always good, but a benign tumor deemed too dangerous to operate on at his age went septic. He passed a week later. I went to visit him in the hospital. My family used to see him a lot, but there was a falling out between him and my grandma, so we stopped seeing them.
In the hospital, he told me not to worry about him. Most everyone he’s ever known was gone, and he was ready to go too. The week he felt himself getting sick, he knew something was off and made arrangements to get my great-grandma into a nursing home. He took care of her with her Alzheimer’s, so he wouldn’t go until he knew she was taken care of.
They were married for over 70 years—and there’s one story I’ll never forget. Every Sunday for over 50 years, he would drop my great-grandma off at church, and then sit in the car and wait for her. Hated religion but loved his wife.
65. Aunt Ain’t Daughter
My aunt watched in horror as her elderly mother took a terrible fall down the stairs. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, as the woman lay dying at the bottom of the stairs, she made a startling confession. She told my aunt that she wasn’t her biological mother. She said that her oldest sister was actually her mother.
The sister had gotten pregnant too young and the mom said it was hers. A common way of handling it back then. She revealed it in her very last breath.
66. Randy Grandfather
I spent a lot of time with my 90-something-year-old grandfather in his final months. He was married to my grandmother for over 70 years and told me he never slept with any other woman. He seemed proud of this but then asked me what it was like to sleep with more than one person in your lifetime. A little awkward. But what’s next was more awkward.
He told me, as he was waking up from a nap, that he’d just had an intimate dream about Betty Grable. I never shared these details with my family.
67. Heavenly Pies
I once worked in a hospital in Louisiana. One day I was assisting a mature dependent wife at the end of a long battle with both dementia and cancer. I didn’t know her that well, so her last words were always a mystery to me. Just before she passed she said: “Darn it, my pie must be burning!” Maybe it was something she smelled?
68. The Chase Is Over
I worked for a federal law enforcement agency. We had a mid-level player as a suspect for a string of cargo thefts. Knew him for years and brought him in several times. He taunted us a fair bit. Lung cancer got hold of him before we could build a solid case. Things went downhill fast. Went to see him at home, just before he transferred to hospice.
That he did at least 50% of what we suspected is an open secret. I knew it. He knew it. For whatever reason, he chose to give me a break. He said, “If I give you something, will you sit on it for a few weeks?” Initially, I could not agree. What if he was going to leak info about something in progress? He assured me that it could wait, so I agreed.
So, he said, “I know that you are looking at me for what you’re investigating. I didn’t do it.” He admitted wanting to do it, told me who was responsible, and where we could find solid evidence to implicate five to six people. Why did he tell me? He said the other guy “never treated anybody right.”
69. Holding Her Hand
The summer of my third year in nursing school, we were going to different types of hospitals to do our clinical and stayed at a certain type of hospital for a week or two. Our last stop was a general hospital. On the second to last day at that hospital an old lady, who had no family come to visit her the whole time, was close to going, and she looked at me while I was doing my rounds and asked me, “Please, can you stay with me a little longer and hold my hand?”
I pulled up a chair and held her hand while she took her last breaths. I never finished nursing school. I’m just not mentally stable enough to witness things like that.
70. Majestic Park
My Grandpa was effectively my dad, though not biologically related to me at all. He expired of Leukemia in 2011, and my family and I essentially took days with him in the hospital during the time before his death. During my day with him, he was a bit off thanks to pain and medication. Right after one of his more disconnected episodes, he sits up in bed, swings his feet over to the floor, and then suddenly just stops—maybe due to fluid motion abruptly ending.
From the mouth of a man who had never said anything about beauty, art, or the like come the words “Majesticpark, look at the sky! It’s beautiful,” so I look. Looks to me like the sky from “The Seine at Argenteuil,” which is kinda pretty even to me, a complete neanderthal with respect to art. Then he continues, “I’m so proud of you and your mother.”
For me, the shocking part was the verbal recognition of something beautiful, but the latter portion had me pretty bent out of shape, in a good way and I needed to sit out the evening shift I had at the time. I miss that guy.
71. Left Unsaid
I was on the phone with my grandpa when he was in the hospital. He was dying from emphysema and COPD. He had been on oxygen for years, a small tube in his nose. I guess in the hospital they put an oxygen mask on him. We had a short conversation, and it was really hard to understand him. He repeated something and I just said, “Okay.” While I had no clue what he was saying.
To this day I feel like he was trying to tell me something. It bothers me a lot. I feel really bad about it.
72. A Simple Life Statement
I had a client pass recently—and it’s stuck with me ever since. She was very elderly, had various physical ailments associated with age but still ran a tight ship. Hair and nails done, house tidy. She had been feeling unwell for weeks, just enough to be bothersome but not bad enough for hospitalization. She could feel the change in the wind.
She had a grumble in her refined way, saying, “I’ve been through terrible things!” The strain was clear on her face. But she turned to the window where it was a bright blue sky and said, “Never mind that. What a beautiful day it’s turned out to be.” She passed suddenly an hour later. And I always felt her last statement to me wasn’t about that day, but a comment on her entire life.
Realistic, but happy with the results anyway. She was classy in a way they just don’t make anymore.
73. Questions For Later
A good friend’s daughter passed from cancer. I used to head over to keep her company in the evenings after work. A lot of times, one parent would be there, but they’d close their eyes for a nap when she did. I’d walk in and she would wake up but “shush” me so her mom or dad could sleep. We would snuggle on her bed, and she would ask me questions about my life or the world.
Sometimes we would draw, or I’d bring her a puzzle book. If she was having a “good” day, we would sneak out and go get snacks from the nurses. One of the last times I visited her, she asked me if I believed in heaven. I’m an atheist, but I told her I absolutely did. We ended up coming up with some questions for her relatives that were already there. I walked out of there absolutely gutted.
She was so smart and such a genuinely lovely kid. I still think about her and what she could have been.
74. Guardian Angel
My girlfriend was sitting with her father near his deathbed. He was incoherent the past few days as he was obviously getting close to dying. He sat up, looked at her, and pointed to the ceiling. “Denise, he said. That’s my guardian angel. I don’t need him anymore, I told him to watch over you. He laid back down in bed and passed.
75. Final Requests
The last conversation I had with my grandfather has always stuck with me. He had Parkinson’s and lived on a farm outside of town. One day he looked at me and said, “I’m getting too old to take care of your grandma. I need you to do that for me, okay?” His health deteriorated pretty rapidly from that point onward. I still call my grandmother every single day and try to get back home whenever I can to help out around the farm.
76. A Changing Confession
My grandfather had pretty terrible dementia and he kept making deathbed confessions as he knew he didn’t have much time left. They were often about witnessing a murder and not telling anyone, but each time he confessed to us the details changed. It happened a couple of times a day over the course of his final week. We finally figured out that he would watch the local news and hear about these things happening, then would think he had actually witnessed them.
77. Sharing is Caring
My father was recently diagnosed with cancer. After the initial surgery to remove tumors, he was very weak, in a lot of pain, and scared because for the first time in his life he wasn’t in control of what was happening to him. Let me preface the rest of this by saying he’s always been very selfish and only really does anything that either benefits him somehow or is convenient for him, including being a parent. We were raised by a single mother for most of our childhood, and then got an awesome step-dad from our middle-teens to current day.
My father has always told my brother and I that we aren’t getting any inheritance and that he’s going to spend it all before he dies. He’s been a bachelor for 30 years, so he has no spouse either. We’ve always said that it was fine, to not give him more power over us and it is his money so he should spend it how he chooses.
So my dad is in the hospital, thinking he’s going to die any day, so he calls my brother and I and says he’s realized that he doesn’t need to be in a pine box before giving us anything. He’s going to give us each a chunk of money and watch us enjoy it before he dies. Now, this money did come with strings—we had to tell him what we were going to use it for and he had to approve.
We both talked about doing some home improvement. This was met with approval. He never said how much we were going to get, but the ideas he was throwing out there were pretty high dollar, a new pool for my bro, new floors and windows for me, so our eyes were kind of popping. It was very generous, and in my case, potentially game-changing, as I really do need both and am in no position to afford either.
Fast forward two weeks and all the tests came back. He had a very treatable form of cancer that was caught early and he had an excellent prognosis. Both my brother and I flew to where he lives to care for him after he got out of the hospital and started chemo. He sat us down and said something to the effect of, “Now that I’m not dying, there are still some things I want to do, so I’m not giving you any money.”
Totally his prerogative and his money, and totally in keeping with his personality. But still, oof.
78. Ready To Go
My grandfather had a couple of inoperable embolisms that were going to kill him at some point, and doctors told him that he’d know it when the time came. One of them ruptured a few years later and he was taken off to the hospital where they confirmed there wasn’t anything they could do for him and it was only a matter of time.
He told them since he was dying anyway he was going to keep his pants on because hotel smocks suck and he was dying and they couldn’t make him. He passed out for a few hours and we all thought he was gone until he sat up, looked around, and said, “What am I still doing here?” He went back to sleep and passed shortly afterward.
79. Smiling To The End
My mom had pretty bad dementia and rarely made sense. Right as she was passing, she suddenly looked at me with remarkably clear eyes and said, “The colors are beautiful,” and then went into decompensation euphoria. She gave me the best smile I’d seen on her face in 15 years. She suddenly looked much younger. She went about two minutes later.
80. The Feeling Of Frailty
My great uncle had pancreatic cancer and was very frail because of it. I helped him bathe, use the restroom, and change each morning. Not his last words to me, but something he said that has stuck with me since was “I hate feeling so useless, I can’t do this anymore, I’m so sorry you have to do this.” I told him I never minded doing this for him, I loved him so much, and I’d always be there for him.
I had to move away a few weeks later because my mom wanted me back home. He passed shortly after, and his cat he had for almost 30 years followed him a few days later. He was a good man.
81. Family Secrets Kept Secret
I’d been friends with Jay since I was 13. We were very close and he had come out as gay to me. Jay also told me some very explicit things that had happened to him in childhood—things that I had to swear never to tell anyone. Well, those secrets suddenly turned into deathbed confessions when Jay unexpectedly passed.
Now his brother is trying to get me to reveal all the things Jay told me in confidence. I refused. The brother is now mad and claiming I am not respecting his family’s wishes. I’m respecting my friend’s wishes, which are more important to me.
82. Mind Sufficiently Blown
Maybe a cliché, I don’t know, but my grandmother passed last Friday. While cleaning out her stuff, we found a notebook that had a one-page letter to my mom. It was sweet, saying how much she loved her and then out of nowhere it said, “Your uncle Bobby is your real dad.” Given that my mom is 53, our minds were sufficiently blown. Like, what a plot twist.
83. Amazing Grace
My great-grandmother passed in July at 105. She had really bad dementia, so she never knew who I was and barely remembered her own kids. She lived in a nursing home for the last fifteen years of her life and the last five of those years she became a clairvoyant. She would sing amazing grace when she could tell someone was about to die, it was the craziest thing, because the nurses at the nursing home said that it would happen literally every time.
The most chilling part about it is she sang it one day and no one croaked, but she passed out a couple of hours after singing and then expired later on that night.
84. A Confession Of Feelings
I told my maternal great-grandmother, “Thank you for being such a great grandmother”—but her response threw me for a loop. She said, “I’m so sorry.” She responded that way because when I was born, it was out of wedlock. So, I think while she was civil towards me, she harbored not-so-good feelings for me. I accepted her apology and, in a way, probably made her spirit happy because I ended up naming one of my children after her.
85. I Must Know Everything
I’ve had multiple patients ask me how the process of dying happens, what they should expect in those last few hours and days. This is usual with terminal patients where you can clearly see the beginning of the process. I’ll not forget the one patient who asked directly for me. He said, “If she arrives, please let her report to me immediately. I’m dying and she has to tell me how that works, exactly. I want to know.”
I went in, answered his questions as well as I could. And a few hours later he passed.
86. We’ll Have Some of What She’s Having
My grandma said some pretty funny stuff while she was on painkillers after brain surgery. My aunt jokingly asked her who her favorite child is and my grandma said and pointed at my mom without missing a beat. Then she told my aunt that the purse she gifted her for her birthday was hideous and that nobody needs that many zippers.
She made some fairly inappropriate remarks to the doctor as well, she was really cracking herself up. By the end of the first day, we’d all stopped asking her questions that we didn’t want to know the answer to and everyone was wishing they had a bit of whatever she was on to get through the rest of the week.
87. Nature’s Calling
This is when my grandfather passed. We knew the time was near. Hours rather than days. He started telling a story in labored breaths. It was an analogy of how becoming a good person is like making a pie. We called everyone to his bed. It’s time we all thought. I won’t go into the details of the story but it ended, he closed his eyes. It was quiet. We were all watching his chest to see if he was still breathing.
We knew the time had come. We all held hands around his bed and said a prayer. He then whispered something. We couldn’t understand what he was trying to say and asked him to repeat himself. In a somewhat annoyed tone, he said, “I’ve got to go poop!” We laughed it off and a few of us assisted him with his needs. He passed early the next day. I think those may have been his last words.
88. Waiting For Your Return
I was about to go to Rome for a school trip and my family told me to go to set my mind on something else for a few days. Before I left, I wanted to say goodbye to my grandfather, as it was possibly the last time I could talk to him, and he was sick. He told me: “Have fun boy, I’ll see you next week.” I went to Rome, and when I came back, he was already in a deep sleep due to medication.
He wanted to peacefully pass away while sleeping. I came back the next week, and he was sleeping when I went to visit him. I told him everything I did in Rome even though I knew he wouldn’t wake up. The next morning, he passed. My grandmother said to me: “He waited for you.” I still miss him so much.
89. The Cat Knows
I provided hospice care for a loved one so she could pass in her own home rather than a hospital. In the end, she became convinced that taking morphine for the pain was hurting her. She would lay in agony asking me for help but refused the pain meds. I resorted to just raising and lowering her bed to help her get comfortable. The day she went, her cat went from being aloof to sleeping on the bed with her. Cats know things.
90. BFF Lament
There was this man at a hospice where I worked who had a drinking problem. This isn’t usually a problem because when in hospice you can get whatever you want as long as it doesn’t break any laws. But this guy was violent and was not allowed to drink as a result. Anyway, between his requests for drinks, he talked about a friend he had lost.
He spoke about how he and this friend got into a massive fight about land and his equipment being borrowed. As a result, they haven’t spoken in 20 years. He said he didn’t even know why it was such a big deal and regretted being that aggressive. He basically confessed that he missed his best friend and wished they didn’t lose all those years.
91. Do You Want To Hear The Specials?
My father passed at home under hospice care. After months of chemo and fighting pancreatic cancer, eventually, he stopped eating altogether. On his last day alive he hadn’t eaten for weeks. His last words were to my mother. He said: “What’s the entrée this evening?” I think it’s a confession, of sorts, that truly only the simple things in life matter. Things like a loving wife and comfort food.
92. Wear Your Hard Hat Kids!
I had a co-worker “Larry” who was in a job-site accident. Basically, he was underneath some scaffolding when it was backed into by a vehicle and collapsed on top of him. He was pinned down, couldn’t feel his legs, and was bleeding from a head wound. Larry was 100% convinced he was going to die. We were trying to pull the scaffold off and render first aid and all that, and he kept asking to use a phone to call his wife “Suzie.”
Our supervisor gave him a phone. Larry called Suzie and confessed to everything. It was truly shocking. He admitted to having multiple affairs, looting from Suzie’s parents, creeping on their neighbor’s teenage daughter and doing coke with Suzie’s sister. Larry was crying, telling her he was so sorry, begging for forgiveness. Turns out Larry was just pinned down by a couple of tubes and bracers that fell together just right and was tight enough to pinch a nerve and slow circulation a bit.
He got six stitches on his head and some bruises, and that was the extent of his physical injuries. However, he did lose his house, his pickup truck, custody of his kids, and half his paycheck to child support and alimony. Plus he got written up for not wearing a hard hat under scaffolding.
93. Parents’ Princess
In my grandma’s last days, she requested that mum stay with her alone, and it was only then that she revealed the secret she’d been keeping for decades: She revealed that my mum wasn’t her biological kid. My grandma confessed that she had bought my mum from a child trafficking ring, which was common in China, because she had tried for many years and still could not get pregnant. My mother cried a lot, not only for the unimaginable pain that her biological parents likely went through in losing a baby, but also for the fact that my grandparents have gone beyond to treat my mum as their little princess.
They literally did treat my mum as their own. They were never abusive and only gave her the very best in life. They even willingly sent my mum to the US for a university education even though they aren’t rich by any means.
94. An Affair To Forget
I wasn’t there to witness her confession, but the story leading up to it is intriguing. My mom was adopted, and she also had a non-related adopted brother. My grandparents never kept it a secret, they loved them both like their own. When she was growing up, she tried to find out as much as she could about her and her adopted brother’s birth parents.
Back in those days though, info like that wasn’t exactly the easiest to find. My mom and uncle were brought to the orphanage with little to no info on each of their biological parents. Eventually, my mom found enough info from notes she had gathered—like which families might have been most likely to be related to her. She also found some property info at the library, and she just sort of pieced this puzzle together over her life.
At a certain point, she was able to get the names of her mother and her brother’s mother. She was able to find out she was part of a big family, with lots of brothers and sisters. But, for my uncle, he found out that his mother had passed not long after placing him for adoption. By the time she had gathered all of this info and found this much out, my mom was married, had my older sister, and was pregnant with me.
I can’t remember exactly what it was she found that led to it, or if she heard something from someone, but she got a phone number. That phone number went to the house of her biological mother. She called, and the voice of a young boy answered. My mom asked for the name she knew and she hears, “Yeah one second…hey Mom, the phone’s for you”
My mom and her mom talk. It wasn’t an easy conversation, and I’m just gonna refer to my mom’s mom as bio-gran from here. Bio-gran is not comfortable with my mom contacting her—not at all. She doesn’t ask my mom a lot of questions, but my mom says that she was just gonna talk, and if bio-gran wanted to hang up at any point, she could.
My mom just gave her a short version of the story of her life, and then the conversation was over. Bio-gran after that would send letters to my mom on occasion, but Bio-gran made a point of telling my mom she could never be found out by the rest of her family. And bio-gran carried that secret with her until the day of her last days.
Finally one of her daughters asked her, “Will you tell us where you went when you went away that time?” And Bio-gran confessed, she had gone to a home for unwed mothers all those years ago to have my mom, the child of her affair.
95. His Phone Confessed For Him
My husband had a cardiac event that required an ambulance. As the ambulance was arriving I asked him if the code to open his phone was XXXX, he said yes, then looked up at me and said, “I am so sorry.” He had successful surgery, but had several strokes on the operating table and was taken off life support after seven days. That’s when I learned his dark secret.
When I opened his phone I found out he was having an affair. The same code to his phone also opened his laptop where I found telephone recordings of him and his girlfriend, as well as screenshots of their chats. I don’t know how interesting this is, but it was certainly devastating to me.
96. Dad Denies Daughters
When my partner had cancer, most of his four daughters from a previous marriage somehow made my partner’s cancer about them. They made a few meals and brought them over, but their Facebook posts said they’d cooked 20 meals. Four weeks later, they came to visit during treatment in another town. They made it as impossible as they could for me to see him.
These daughters told him not to cry, because it upset them. When he went on palliative care, he didn’t want to tell them at first because he didn’t want them to visit him. After a week, he felt bad and asked me to tell them. Of course, they all arrived, with partners and kids. They were upset they couldn’t stay with us—all 15 of them.
They blamed me for keeping them away from their dad. They said: “We were there first and it’s our special time as a family.” Their special time was to sit in the same room as him all day, talking and laughing between themselves, ignoring their dad and only waking him up during the day because they thought he wouldn’t sleep that night. An hour before he passed, my partner’s last words were heartbreaking.
He told me: “We should never have told them I was dying. It would’ve been so much easier without them here and I hate how they treat you.” And then, he dropped a real zinger: “By the way, three of them are not mine. My first wife had lots of affairs.” I wish they’d heard every word.
97. The Last Thing You’d Want To Hear
I was raised by my grandmother and my great-grandmother. My grandmother passed from a swift, but rather excruciating battle with pancreatic cancer. From the date of her diagnosis of stage four cancer to the date of her passing was approximately just one month. This was several years ago, and I was around 21 years old at the time.
I had already been married to my wife for two years by that point. My wife was young when we met, and we both made a lot of bad decisions back then. We had a son together, who is now seven years old. He was only a toddler at the time. The last words that my grandmother ever said to me broke my heart. She said, “Don’t trust that wife of yours, darling.”
Now, keep in mind that my grandmother was my favorite adult and grandparent for my entire childhood and life. Her comment didn’t really affect me much at the time. But now, seven years later, about to have my ninth anniversary and second child with my wife who has never wavered for even a moment in her love for me, nor me to her, it has been really difficult to reflect back and dwell on the fact that my grandmother truly felt that way about my wife.
I loved my grandmother dearly and I still do, but often all I can think about when I try to reflect on my time with her is that last statement. That, and the horrible condition that she was in when I was visiting her in the hospital every day for several hours. Let’s just say that watching someone you are so close to pass from cancer is not a pleasant memory, or something that you can easily forget.
Sorry, but reading all of these stories made me need to get that out. Thanks for listening if you did.
98. My Boss is a Heartbreaker
I had a doctor that constantly ignored patients in serious pain. He thought all of them were faking it to get painkillers. After a senior director at Microsoft died from a heart attack in our ER that he refused to do an EKG on, I went to management and told them what I had seen.
99. Pinball Is A Full Contact Sport
My grandfather lost his life in a bar when my father was still a toddler. The official story was that he was attacked over a pinball game. Back then, pinball was taken pretty seriously, I guess. It wasn’t until recently that my grandmother made a shocking deathbed confession. She told us that my grandfather had actually taken someone else’s life and buried the body, days before his own demise.
So he was actually targeted in retaliation for a terrible thing that he had committed. Pinball was just the excuse. My grandmother kept this secret for almost 65 years.
100. If Not Now, When?
This was a weird one for me and actually apropos for my current life. I still think about her. This happened maybe six or seven years ago. She was an older female in her 70s with a history of breast cancer. At that point, she was in the ICU for sepsis, I believe. I talked to her and she mentioned she was widowed. I gave my condolences and stated “That’s hard, I’m sorry about your loss. I imagine you miss him.” Her response shocked me.
To my surprise, she told me, “No, actually I don’t. I was relieved when he went. I was never happy with him. I didn’t leave him because that’s not what we did back in the day. So here I wasted many years with a man who didn’t treat me well, and now I have cancer.” Oof. Life lesson folks.
101. No Show
My wife’s grandmother, who raised her, believed that when you are about to die your deceased relatives show up to escort you to heaven. She was by all accounts a horrible person. On her deathbed her last words were, in a quiet terrified voice, “They’re not coming.”
102. Like the Brother Never Even Existed
My brother who passed on. We never, ever talk about him. It’s so strange, growing up I knew I had a brother and I knew he was hit and killed by a car walking home, but I don’t know anything about him aside from that. I’ve seen his pictures, I know what he looked like. I don’t know anything about his personality, his likes or his dislikes, the type of music he listened to. I once found his comics in my mom’s closet when I was younger, but that was about it.
It is almost like it’s just a story and he wasn’t a real person. It wasn’t until my grandfather passed on about 11 years ago that my mother and I walked to his grave. She broke down into an inaudible mess, and it really hit me for the first time ever that he was a real person, as crazy as that sounds. I don’t understand that pain of losing a child, but it hurt to see my mom mourn like that, almost as if it had just happened.
The only time since then he was ever mentioned was by my dad a few months ago. Out of my mother, father, and sisters, I’m the tallest. My dad told me how the only one of us who was taller than me was Jimmy, and how he always seemed to keep growing, how he probably would have towered over me. I almost cried. I wish I got to know him.