There eventually comes a day in each of our lives when it is our time to go. That means that, sooner or later, each of us will speak what will ultimately turn out to be our last words. For those family members, friends, or medical professionals who have witnessed a person’s last words, it is often understandably hard for whatever those words were not to stand out in their minds for years to come. From touching farewells to unexpected revelations, here are 42 stories of some of the most memorable last words that have ever been spoken.
1. Causing a Reaction
I was about five or six years old when my grandfather was on his deathbed. The last thing he ever did was put his hand on my shoulder and say, “No wonder you never liked my spicy food!” He passed away about ten seconds later. We were all super confused. Then, about three months later, I almost died from suffocation after eating some salsa.
At the hospital, I was diagnosed with a capsaicin allergy (to spicy food). To this day it still creeps me out. No one knew I was allergic before then, and I didn’t show any signs of it either.
2. Just For Old Times’ Sake
My pop died of lung cancer recently. The last lucid thing he ever did was wake up just long enough to sing, “Show me the way to go home. I’m tired and I want to go to bed. I had a little drink about an hour ago and it went right to my head.” It was really pretty amazing and freaky at the same time. He was a foot soldier in WWII, and I’m pretty sure he sang that song while marching through Germany.
3. Predicting the Future
I was visiting my grandpa and had to leave town early to get back to medical school. Before I left, I told him that I loved him and would see him again soon. He told me he loved me too, but that no I wouldn’t. I was confused. He was right, he died a week later of pneumonia.
4. Always Leave ‘Em Laughing
These were not technically his last words, but they were definitely his last dad joke. This exchange took place just a few days before he passed away. My father’s doctor: “I’m afraid you’re going to die soon.” My father: “Oh, I can live with that!” Rest in peace, Dad. You were definitely one of a kind!
5. There Are No Stupid Questions, Only Stupid People
Student: “Sir, are you in any pain?” Patient: “What the hell are you talking about, you idiot? I just got freakin’ stabbed, of course I’m in pain!!” He died within the next couple of minutes.
6. No Amount of Training Can Prepare You For Something Like This…
I was once involved in a major car accident many years ago, where a motorcycle flew over a hill and rammed right into me while I was starting to make a left turn. My brain immediately clicked into first aid mode even though I was bleeding, and I rushed over to check on the motorcycle riders right away. Thankfully, I could at least walk with no problem.
No one else was around and the first responders had not gotten there yet, so I began going through some procedures that I had been trained in with the driver of the motorcycle. He was all twisted up and didn’t look too good, but was awake and able to speak. I got down low and looked into his piercing blue eyes. Me: “Sir, are you alright?”
I automatically asked this standard question merely out of habit from my training–although in hindsight, it was probably dumb and fairly unnecessary under these circumstances. Him: “I’m not sure.” The woman who had been on the back of the motorcycle with him just gurgled incoherently. They both passed away later that day.
As you might expect, the memory of this incident has haunted me ever since.
7. A Man of His Word
“I’m gonna mess y’all up big time!” Those were the last words of an old man at our hospital who had never attended his dialysis appointments. He passed away almost immediately after saying this. A few hours later, we had a fire spontaneously break out right by his former room–so despite not being all that scary when he was alive, he definitely was when he became our first ever deceased patient to actually go through with their threat of haunting us!
8. Together Again
I’m a nurse and I have worked in hospice for a while. One of my patients’ last words just seconds before dying were, “Oh momma, I’ve missed you so much!” Yes, I cried!
9. Instruction Manual
A family friend had a very young niece who was dying from cancer. Her parents were there to comfort her in her final hours, and one of the last things she ever asked was, “How do I die?”
10. A Phone Call You Can Always Be Thankful For
The last words that I ever heard my dad speak were on the phone, on Thanksgiving night. As we were about to both hang up, he stopped me, took a really long pause, and then told me that 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 asked 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 that he was going to die somehow.
11. Here They Come!
Hospice nurse here. I once had a patient who was experiencing terminal agitation. With an expression of complete terror on his face, he screamed out, “Help me! They are coming to get me!” before moving on to the other side.
12. At Last, the Time Has Come
I’m a nurse, and I have worked with the elderly for quite some time now. Most of them have been completely silent in their last moments. One old man sighed out a “Finally!” and went on. He just looked so relieved to finally die.
13. Playing With Fire
During my residency, I was on call and running the hospital as senior residents tend to do. One of my duties during this time was to be in charge of and responsible for the entire Intensive Care Unit, which had a capacity of about 16 to 20 beds. On one occasion, I was taking care of a man who had a bowel perforation—or in layman’s terms, a hole in his intestines.
He had an NG (nasogastric) tube up his nose and into his stomach so that he wouldn’t drown in his own feces. His brother and sister in law came to visit him and they had a nice conversation. I walked in as they were leaving and they said to him, “Make sure to listen to the doctor!” as they left. The patient and I then talked for a little bit before, all of a sudden, I noticed that he wasn’t looking so good.
I kept hearing a gurgling sound as he was speaking to me, kind of like the sound you make when you rinse out your mouth with mouthwash and spit it out. I immediately checked his NG tube and it came right out. He just looked at me and said “Uh oh, I guess I shouldn’t have played with the tube!” before going very pale and losing a pulse. I did everything in my power to save him that day, but his lungs were full of stool and he died 20 minutes later.
The rest of the day, I felt utterly numb and sick. The feeling still sits with me to this day. To have had a patient smiling and laughing with you one moment, then to be deceased a mere 20 minutes later is one heck of an emotional roller coaster ride. To clear up a few quick points, the NG tube was attached to a canister on the wall and set to suction—to help remove contents.
The patient most likely aspirated—think about when you eat and cough or swallow at the same time, and the food goes down the “wrong pipe,” i.e. airway versus the esophagus. After he pulled his tube out enough, it slipped away from his esophagus and thus allowed the contents to flow down the airway.
14. 101 Ways to Not Die in the West
Although this isn’t quite a story of someone’s last words ever, it’s pretty close—and definitely haunting! My uncle had a near-death experience when his pancreas failed. He went to the fridge, opened a half-gallon of orange juice, and took a few massive gulps. He then turned to walk away, lost consciousness, and fell to the floor.
My cousin just happened to be stopping by to check on him within the next hour, so he was very lucky to have been rushed to the hospital straight away. The doctors immediately knew that his pancreas had failed, so his body could no longer regulate blood sugar. Drinking the orange juice had apparently caused his blood sugar to spike to an insane level, which they said they had never seen anyone survive from. I forget the actual number, but it was something unbelievably ridiculous.
Well, he’s a tough old dog and did survive, just as he had survived the Vietnam War and a stage four cancer diagnosis (he was given only a few months to live about five years ago), among many other things. Seriously, this man must have nine lives! For a few days, though, he was on the verge of death and completely delirious. He didn’t know what year it was, couldn’t remember the names of his loved ones, and kept babbling on about, “Room 101.” We had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
Within a week, his mental state was completely back to normal and he told us about how he had had a strange dream at one point during his ordeal. Now, he has never been a very religious man. He’s your typical real salt of the earth, cigarette smoking, motorcycle driving, charmingly rugged, and matter-of-fact sort of guy.
He almost didn’t want to believe this was anything more than a hallucination. When I first heard it, I told him that it surely could not have been. He very slightly teared up and said, “Do you think so? It felt real…” as if he had needed the confirmation from someone else to cope with it. His first memory after drinking the orange juice was waking up in a wheelchair in the hospital.
He remembers some blurry figures, probably nurses and doctors he figured. He then heard one of them say something along the lines of, “This one needs to go to room 101.” He remembers being wheeled into a room that had a big, golden “101” sign on the door. He was left alone in that room. The room was bright and empty, except for two “thrones” with the letters “SD” and “SG” written on them, respectively.
My whole extended family has since spent a lot of time speculating about what those acronyms could possibly mean. Supreme Devil and Supreme God? Spiritual Decline or Spiritual Gain? My uncle didn’t even come to these conclusions, he just remembers wondering what they stood for at the time. Then, he says that something entered the room that “didn’t look like anything, but it was a presence. I couldn’t tell you if it was even a male voice or female voice.”
Either way, it approached and immediately asked him, “Nick C., what sort of life do you think you’ve lived?” He thought about it and said, “Well, I think I’ve done a lot of bad things and I think I’ve done a lot of good things. But overall, I think the good things outweigh the bad.” He said there was then a long pause before the voice finally said, “I would agree with that. Do you want to go back to your life as Nick C., or do you want to come with me?” He said he understood what it was asking, and he responded that he wanted to go back to his regular life.
Then, here’s the part that really confused the heck out him. The presence said something like, “Okay, then. You can go back to your life. But, you must promise me something first.” He said, “Sure, of course, anything!” At this point, he was expecting to hear something profound and was a bit scared of what it could possibly be.
What it asked of him was simply, “No more ice cream.” He was confused, but gladly agreed. Then, the thing was gone. He said he just sensed that it had left the room. Someone came in and wheeled him out of the room, and the next thing he remembered was starting to wake up in the hospital bed with his whole family around him.
Upon investigating, there is no “Room 101” at this hospital, and no one had at any point wheeled him anywhere in a wheelchair at all. We asked the hospital staff multiple times to be sure. We wondered a lot about the ice cream thing. What’s interesting is that he is basically now diabetic after this. A blood sugar spike is the reason he nearly died in the first place, but when this strange dream or whatever it was occurred, he didn’t know that yet.
He had no idea that his pancreas had failed. As far as he knew, he had just drank some orange juice and blacked out. So maybe he had to agree to go back to life with this condition? We’re not sure, and neither is he, but I personally like to believe that it was more than just a strange hallucination.
15. I’ve Got a Feeling
I’m an EMT. I once had a patient say, “I don’t feel so good” right before dropping to the floor with a massive heart attack that they never recovered from. It was just the matter of fact way in which they said it that really got to me.
16. Always Thankful For What He Had
Recently, I had a guy in his 60s with lung cancer as a patient. He was a Do Not Resuscitate. His wife said, “Honey, if tonight is the night, that’s okay, I understand. I love you and I always will.” He smiled, gave a thumbs-up, said, “Thank you!” and passed away 10 minutes later.
17. A Difference of Opinion
With wide eyes and in a fully serious tone, a patient once said to me, “Don’t listen to my family, they want to keep me around forever but I just want to die. They won’t let me.” She wanted to get off of dialysis, which was basically a death sentence for her.
18. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
“I see that man in the corner again!” There was no one there, but she had been claiming to have seen a dark-looking man in the corner of the room for days, and was repeatedly asking about him. Towards the end, this became the only thing she would ever want to talk about, aside from occasionally crying for her deceased mother.
19. One Last Request
One old lady with severe dementia who was a patient of mine kind of had no idea what was going on as she was in her final moments. She was pretty out of it. Her last words ended up being that she missed her mommy and that she hoped that mommy would bake bread today because she was hungry.
20. Hail to the Chief
Legend has it that President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s last words, just moments before he dropped to his death, were, “I have a terrific pain in the back of my head,” while he was sitting for a portrait.
21. Just Passing Through
We went to Mexico for my great-grandmother’s birthday. When we were all saying our goodbyes, she told us that the next time we’d be in town would be when she was six feet under. She was right, sadly. She passed away just a few days later.
22. Will She, or Won’t She?
I work as a Physician Assistant for a clinic, so I’ll never be involved in this kind of situation personally. However, I have a good friend who has been in these kinds of situations many times. She is also a Physician Assistant and was once helping a guy who was terminally ill. Before he passed away, he asked her to please make sure not to let his ex-wife have his stuff. Of course, my friend listened and was very sympathetic.
No more than a day or so after he passed away, his ex-wife apparently showed up to the hospital with several kids, saying that she was in the guy’s will. Long story short, she was trying to take his stuff.
23. A Mother’s Love Never Dies
My mom passed away just a couple of hours after asking me if I would be okay if she had to go. I’ve always hoped that I was able to give her the peace of mind she needed to let go and exit the world satisfied with everything.
24. I Believe I Can Fly
I had a patient in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit one time during the second month of my intern year at a hospital. The patient had just been newly diagnosed with heart failure, and we couldn’t figure out what had caused it. He was a very healthy guy! He was in his 60s, he did yoga every day, he walked a few miles five days a week. He was also a genuinely nice guy, which is always a bad prognostic sign.
With his new heart failure condition, his heart was completely stretched out and was not squeezing adequately enough to provide the blood and subsequent oxygen he needed for the rest of his body. A few nights into his hospital stay, I came in the next morning and discovered that the senior resident had needed to code him for sustained unstable heart arrhythmia.
I went in and talked with him about it as soon as I was able to, and he told me that he was in and out of consciousness during it all due to the low blood pressure. Nevertheless, he compared what he could remember of the process to the feeling of jumping out of a plane while skydiving. Later that morning, I was checking on him again and he didn’t look so good.
He went into the arrhythmia again, his blood pressure dropped, and he began to slip in and out of consciousness. As I was charging the defibrillator to shock him again, he suddenly came back to consciousness for a brief moment. He asked me if I was taking him skydiving again, and then let out this unforgettable nervous laugh before losing consciousness once more—never to recover.
25. Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen
“I’m going home tonight, so I probably won’t see you tomorrow. Goodbye!”
Damned if she wasn’t right…
26. I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Unfortunately, I just lost my dad this past week. His last audible words to me were “See you later, alligator!” as I was leaving the Intensive Care Unit for the night after one of my many visits. He had a stroke the next morning. From then on, he could only communicate by squeezing my hand. So, the last ever “communication” I received from him was a very strong hand squeeze just before his heart stopped.
I miss you, dad!
27. Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire
A patient on my ambulance’s last words were, “Can I smoke in here?” before passing away en route to the hospital. It was such a casual thing to say, and stuck out in contrast with the gravity of the rest of their situation. I guess that explains why it’s stuck with me in my head for so long.
28. Sharing His Feelings
I’m a paramedic who has heard too many last words over the years. And, for the record, these are rarely what you see in movies, where the patient says something dramatic, then peacefully and quickly dies. A lot of the ones I’ve seen 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 freaking hurts,” was a hauntingly memorable one from a 22-year-old kid who had flown off his motorbike after being hit by a lorry. He went into shock afterward and we couldn’t get him back. This was back when I was a student and, even though it’s quite a humorous last sentence, it still really disturbed me to hear.
29. Tell the World I’m Coming Home
My dad died of Alzheimer’s a few years ago. We knew that he had only days to live, and so we made sure that every family member got to have a few moments alone with him while they still had the chance. My dad had been completely non-verbal for about a week or so at this point. When it was my turn, I told him that it was okay to let go and that pretty soon he was finally going to be home. He then smiled and slowly repeated the word “home” in a tone of happiness and relief.
As far as I know, that was his last word; and I think it’s utterly beautiful.
30. I Didn’t Mean to Do It!
Back when I was first training as a doctor, I had a guy go into a massive cardiac arrest. We ended up working on him for over an hour and a half because we kept getting him back then losing him again. He had wet himself during the arrest (which is common, it happens). He woke up and apologized for “making a mess” shortly before we lost him for good.
31. Not Without Your Permission
My grandpa was a very sweet and sensitive man. When he was very sick and hospitalized towards the end, he was struggling to hang on and was mostly unresponsive. My grandma grabbed his hand at one point and, almost instantly, my grandpa started to speak for the first time in days. He asked if she would be okay without him. Grandma said, “It’s okay, you can go. I know the kids will take good care of me.”
He was gone within the hour. He loved her so much that it wasn’t a surprise to me that he needed her permission to die.
32. Have a Drink?
I am an EMT, and we had a frequent patient who needed our attention almost once a week at one point. He was a HUGE jerk to us most of the time, but towards the end, he turned into a sweet and appreciative man. We were in his house on what ended up proving to be our last day there. He knew it. I didn’t. He said, “Can I just have a beer before we leave for the hospital?”
I didn’t let him have it. I should have.
33. Never Out of Character
I lost my dad a year ago last weekend. Towards the end, he was pretty lucid but couldn’t talk much. He was the type of guy who never sought out or wanted any kind of recognition for all the things he did. He was always uncomfortable with being complimented, and he was also always uncomfortable with getting credit for things that he saw as just being a basic, decent human being.
He was also crotchety and grouchy in the best way possible. Basically, he was a genuinely good, kind person, but also hilariously crabby somehow. I hope to one day be just like him. His main concern throughout the process was always for my mom, and for making sure that their house, their money, and everything else that they had would be protected for her when he passed on.
My brother kept assuring him that we had it all covered and that he didn’t need to worry about anything, so the second to last thing he said before he died was, “I’m gonna freakin’ worry about it if I want to.” The very last thing that he ever said was later that day, when my brother kept repeating over and over again, “We love you, Dad, and we appreciate everything that you’ve done for us.”
My dad nodded a couple of times to acknowledge that he knew, but my brother clearly wanted to hear something verbalized in return. He kept on trying. I was kind of cringing while watching this, because I was thinking, “Oh no, if he keeps saying that, Dad’s just gonna get annoyed.” Finally, my brother said it again, telling him that he was a great dad and how much we all appreciated him.
At that point, my dad just sat up, waved his hand in the air dismissively, and said, “Alright!”, as if to say, “Okay, Jesus, I got it! Knock it off already!” We all just laughed. It was so hard losing him when he finally did pass shortly after that. I’m so proud to be his daughter and he was so much fun to have known. As hard as going through that was, though, it makes me smile and feel thankful to know that he was “himself” right up until the very end.
He never stopped being the comically cranky guy that we all knew and loved throughout the years. I kind of think that he did that for our benefit. He didn’t want us to be sad and I think he wanted to give us a little laugh at the end. We were with him around the clock until he died. We even took shifts, and I also think he waited until we left him for just a moment to pass.
I don’t think he wanted us to see it. My brother was with him and had to duck out for just a few minutes. He said, “Hey Dad, I have to step out for a sec. I’ll be right back, OK?” My dad nodded. My brother wasn’t even gone for five minutes yet when a staff member came over to get him and inform him that our dad had just passed.
I really think that he just didn’t want my brother (or any of us, for that matter) to have to witness that and have it as our last memory of him. I’m so sorry for anyone out there who has lost a parent. I know how hard it is. Take good care of yourself. It’s hard no matter how old you are. Hopefully, you have a lot of happy memories that you can look back on and smile about. I know I do.
34. A Surprise Ending
My great-great-grandfather did the opposite of most. He was rich enough to have had two personal physicians with him at all times during the last few years of his life. Just three minutes before he died, he told one of them that he was feeling “remarkably well.” So well, in fact, that he decided to try and sit up in his bed. He didn’t make it into a sitting position.
I know this all because I still have the obituary. They were very detailed back then.
35. Where Have All the Flowers Gone
I’m a nurse who cares for the elderly. One lady who was a patient of mine was absolutely terrified in her final moments, and I tried my best to calm her down. It was absolutely heartbreaking. You can’t really do anything with their fear in that situation other than just try to calm them as best as you can. The lady asked me, “Will everything be okay?” and I told her that, “Yes, everything will be fine.” I reminded her that her kids were fine, and that everything else was fine.
She then asked if her flowers had been watered that day. I told her that they had indeed been. She didn’t say anything after that, and passed away less than an hour later.
36. We’re Here For You
It wasn’t exactly words, but the most haunting death I’ve ever witnessed was a patient who was a “Do Not Resuscitate” through her and her family’s wishes. She was losing her battle, and her family wasn’t there. After a while, she began getting frantic—looking around and half sitting up in bed, wondering where they were in her hour of need.
At that point, a nurse with more experience than me walked over, took her hand, and calmly said, “It’s ok. You’re not alone. We’re right here with you; it’s ok to leave if you have to.” The patient immediately calmed down, put her head back down on the pillow, and died. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be like that nurse when I grew up. How the heck did she know exactly what to do and say?
I’ve never forgotten it, even all these years later.
37. A Fight to the Death
My daughter is a nurse. She said that the ones who are ready to go are the easiest to deal with. She just holds their hands and lets them know that they aren’t alone. The hardest ones to deal with are the fighters. For example, she once had a patient in his 70s who kept saying “NO, NOPE, I’m not ready to go! I still have a lot of living to do!”
When that man died later that day, my daughter started to cry. Upon seeing this, one of the nurses said to her, “Maybe you should rethink your career if you are going to cry just from seeing someone pass away.” The head nurse overheard this, and told her, “No, no, honey! You’ve got it all backward! If there ever comes a time when you don’t cry anymore, that is when you need to stop being a nurse!”
38. Too Little Too Late
My mom and I cared for my grandmother in her final months. We were at her house pretty much every day, cleaning her up, feeding her, helping her to the restroom, and keeping her company. My grandfather was and is still alive, but he’s unfortunately not a very helpful person. We had already done our crying and mourning ahead of time, and so we were ready to let her go when the time came.
Because of this, my grandma was lucky enough to have had the chance to say her proper goodbyes and thank yous to us before slipping into a condition where she couldn’t anymore. I could not have wished for a better way to bid farewell to my beloved grandma than to have her last words be a meaningful goodbye and an expression of love for me after we had all come to terms with our situation. I am forever grateful for that.
In the days that followed, when she was unconscious and barely clinging to life in the hospital, my aunts and uncles all came out of the woodwork. The doctor asked if they should resuscitate her so that they could speak to her before she passed, and they all emphatically said yes. They wanted to do whatever it would take to keep her alive long enough to speak to her one more time.
In other words, they were basically feeling guilty about not having come around until her final moments, and so they wanted to drag out her misery a little bit longer just to make themselves feel better. My mom and I put our foot down on this, though. That was not what grandma wanted, and it sure as hell wasn’t what she deserved. It was a big fight, but we won in the end and she was able to go peacefully without a fight on her end when it was time.
People can be real selfish sometimes.
39. Dog’s Best Friend
I am an Emergency Room nurse. I’ve heard more than my fair share of people’s final words over the years. One that will always stick out to me was a young man in his early 20s who had just been in a pretty bad car accident. He had lost a leg and, as a result, lost a very large amount of blood.
The last thing that he said was pretty much asking his girlfriend if his dog was alright. The dog had been in the car too 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, all the while having no idea whatsoever how close to death he himself was.
40. Deathbed Confessions Til the Cows Come Home
I’m not a medical worker, but I once went along with my father on a trip to say goodbye to my great-uncle (his uncle). He was suffering from dementia and was clearly on the way out. He also no longer recognized people. My father was an only child and had spent most of his time as a youngster being raised by his uncles, as his father ran a farm all day.
Anyway, we’re sitting there on our visit and great-uncle is snoozing away for a while as we expected. Then, all of a sudden, he wakes up, sees my father, clearly recognizes him, and starts immediately talking to him about a barn and describing it in great detail. I mean, he’s talking about where the barn is located, the way the paint was flaking off in one corner, and so on.
My father is quieter than normal and begins just saying “yes” over and over again as he listens to his uncle describe this barn. Then, just before great-uncle loses consciousness, he describes going into the barn and setting it on fire. It turns out that many, many years earlier, my grandfather and my great-uncle had been having a hell of a dispute over something or other, and so my great-uncle decided to burn down my grandfather’s barn to get back at him.
Everyone in my family had suspected it for a very long time, but no one ever knew for sure—until now. He passed away later that day.
41. Probably the Worst Thing You’ll Ever Read…
The worst thing I’ve ever witnessed was a kid crying and begging for his mommy as he was dying. Unfortunately, mommy was in police custody for having just beaten him into a brain hemorrhage.
42. Just His Way of Saying “I Love You”
I’m a nurse at a local hospital. I was once caring for a man with a brain tumor who was somewhere around the age of 40. He was coming in and out of consciousness and was not to be resuscitated. His 16-year-old daughter was sitting there and crying non-stop for over 12 hours. His wife, who had been given a few months to prepare herself, was calm and focused on her husband.
I had to routinely check his level of consciousness, which involved talking to him in a loud voice to see if he would respond to auditory stimulation. I really did not enjoy doing that part, so I asked his wife if she would like to speak to him in a loud voice instead. I figured that it couldn’t hurt to let the guy listen to a voice that he might actually recognize and be happy to hear.
She agreed and did so without hesitation. The only response that we observed to her vocalization was that this otherwise profoundly unconscious patient suddenly took her hand to his lips and kissed it as soon as she started speaking. He stopped breathing very soon after that. I am forever haunted by this, but not in a bad way.