It's true, most people don't get the opportunity to choose their last words with any kind of intent. It's not like choosing a yearbook quote. That doesn't mean last words can't be profound or awesome, though. Medical staff are probably the people who have the most experience hearing people's final words, so one Reddit user asked:
Doctors and nurses, what are the weirdest last words you've heard?
The answers were pretty amazing. Some people embraced humor, some were scared - we feel like we totally understand cheeseburger-lady on a deep and cellular level. Here are some of the best responses.
Grandpa, tough as nails. Had four heart attacks, each one worse than the last, lived 25 years beyond all expectations. He liked to tell jokes to the EMTs before defibrillator use, hoping they might be his last words. He was funny and stubborn and sweet.
When he finally went, my mom tried to fix his oxygen mask, "daddy, you need to wear this" and he looked at her, pulled it off, and said "pfft. Who says." Then he died.
I like it. I think it was fitting.
Sports? No Thanks.
My grandma was in the hospital,and we knew she would die in the next weeks. A nurse came in for her sport program,my grandma looked at her,said "I don't want to do sports now",closed her eyes and just died.
I love her for that sentence because now,years later, it's kinda funny.
For a lot of people their brains are just kinda going haywire to cope with the fact that they're dying. In a thread just like this but specifically about nursing homes, a nurse said that her "favorite" last words was an old lady who looked like and thought she was just eating this massive, delicious cheeseburger, then she faded out to nothing.
Paramedic here. Unfortunately seen the end of many people's lives, some in a much nicer way than others. Had a gentleman who was incredibly unwell, family were with him too. We stayed to offer support and ensure he was comfortable in the last stages of his journey. His last words were "she's here now, I think I'll go". The patients wife explained that they had lost a daughter at a young age, and we believe that's who he saw before he died.
The Worst Memories
Took a call from a man who was about to have what ended up being a fatal stroke.
He was a Vietnam vet, and I stayed on the line with him as long as I could. He first said he was feeling off and weak and as his brain started short circuiting he started rambling then yelling about "the LZ is hot requesting immediate evac we have heavy casualties".
I guess it was some memory from the war, but the panic in his voice was palpable and heartbreaking. He went out reliving what was probably the worst moments of his life before the stroke effected him to the point his words turned into a garbled mess.
Nurse was assisting a not-very-nice elderly woman terminal patient, who fully expected all her deceased family members to show up to take her with them up to heaven. Not long before she died, the elderly woman said in a scared voice:
"They're not coming."
Waiting For St. Peter
I once had a patient that put his call light on. When I went in to see what he needed, he said "could you please turn off the lights? I'd like to wait for St. Peter in the dark." Sure enough, by the time I went in there with his evening medications about an hour later, he had already died.
"Hold My Beer"
The thing is, people's last words are seldom ever memorable, because anytime people have something meaningful or coherent, let alone humorous or profound, they are definitely not dying.
After that delirium sets in and they most often mumble incoherently if they say anything at all.
By the time they proceed to imminent death, most often no one remembers the last meaningful communication they attempted.
For trauma patients that arrive coherent but proceed to death due to gravity of their injuries, they are mostly Just answering directed questions about their health history, substance abuse, past surgery, time of last meal, etc. The last thing that anyone present for their head injury, though, might frequently have been the proverbial "hold my beer."
Sometimes people have profound or inspiring things to say when they have a terminal diagnosis the last time we see them before they transition to hospice care, especially those who have or are in the process of achieving acceptance of their mortality.
Former paramedic here. 1st witnessed death for me was a 56 year old man that had passed out at the dining table with his daughter while they were having lunch. We get there and he's talking normally. Blood pressure was a little elevated, but otherwise all other vital signs and heart rhythm is within normal limits. He mentioned he needed to use the restroom before we went to the hospital, so my male partner stood at the door to the bathroom just in case. His daughter thought we were being weird, but we let her know that sometimes it's one of the last things a patient wants to do, so we were being cautious. He finished up, courteously washed his hands and we got him into our ambulance. About 30 seconds later, he started apologizing for taking up our time and wasting the resources on him. He said "I'm just so sorry that you have to waste your time on me," took a deep breath and died.
His daughter was following us to the hospital and watched me straddling her father, doing CPR as she got out of her vehicle. He didn't make it and she asked me if he said anything. I told her what he said, and she broke down in front of me. She told me that it sounded exactly like something he would have said, but had wished that it was more profound.
Feed The CatGiphy
3rd yr med student here. "Weird" and equally heart wrenching... 68 yr old man dying of metastatic lung cancer (with a 9 yr old daughter) turns to his wife just minutes before his last breath and says "don't forget to feed the cat, she likes dry food in the morning and wet food at night".
Knew He Was Loved
Not a doctor or nurse, but was in the room when my father n law passed. In the last couple weeks he lost the ability to talk or breath on his own. He decision was made to take him off life support and we all sat and waited for the moment when he was gone. At the very last second he reached out and grabbed my mil hand opened his eyes and held her hand while he took his last breath. it was the saddest yet most beautiful thing I've ever seen. She smiled at him and cried and told him she loved him in in his last moments he knew he was loved and that was it he was gone.
The Dog Was Her Favorite Grandchild
When my Nana was in palliative care she stopped talking 2 days before she passed. She would wake up and mumble a bit but not much more than that.
I decided to stop by and visit her after work one morning. I worked graveyards so I got there around 7am. She woke up and started speaking almost coherently to me. She asked me if I'd spent the night and I explained I just got there.
She asked me to give her a kiss and I did. Then she proceeded to ask me if I'd fed my dog and how my dog was doing. Of course her last thought would be about our dog. We had always joked that the dog was her favorite grandchild.
I told my poppa she had actually spoke to me that morning and he said he would go visit her the next morning and see if she would talk to him. She ended up passing away about half an hour before him and my aunt got there.
I Want My MomGiphy
Working cardiology, had a mostly stable 50 year old woman. Admitted with angina pain and was going for an angiogram the next day. She hits the call bell and I run into the room. She's hyperventilating, panicking, complaining of indigestion and back pain. I instantly know this is probably a cardiac event. She told me she's scared and wants her mom.
A few minutes later she was a full code with no recovery. My first code.
I had brain swelling and went in to a partial seizure for about 20 minutes or so then entered a full body seizure in the ambulance. With how long it lasted I could've died easily. My last words (for the paramedic) would've been a mixture of "dovnoeipntphomwepfinwepfigmeprgm" and "oijofveovuheoefpijewpiofpieo" due to my speech being completely slurred.
I'm an ICU nurse in a unit that cares for patients after open heart surgery. This particular patient was a couple days out from her surgery and seemed to be recovering well, if a little bit slowly compared to others having the same surgery.
I work at night, and while I was giving her her nighttime medications and doing her assessment, I reviewed how I expected the night to go. Automatic hourly vitals (our monitors to these for us, so no need to go in the room), every 4 hours I would have to wake her up to do a mini-assessment, yadda yadda. She stated a desire to sleep in the recliner instead of the bed; she just couldn't get comfortable in out beds. Pretty common complaint, and since was stable, I agreed to it.
The night progresses well. Around 5:30 AM, I go in to find out if she needs any pain meds, and tell her I am going to get a couple of meds that need to be taken on an empty stomach, as well as a couple of other things. She tells me that no, she's not in any pain, felt like she rested pretty well, even given that we keep waking her up. I say ok, I'll go grab the stuff I need, and be right back. She says ok.
I'm out of the room about 5 minutes when I hear the charge nurse yelling for me to go into her room. She's gray, unresponsive, and barely breathing. About 6 of us muscle her back into the bed, CPR ensues, followed by a return trip to the OR. She never regained consciousness. It turned out she probably had thrown a massive pulmonary embolism, which caused her to have a stroke.
Just weird to have someone's last words be about something so inconsequential.
Dad Jokes Til The End
Nurse asked grandpa how he felt, he said "with my hands" and died like two hours later.
I'm a nurse- my first death ever that haunts me to this day-
Dude started complaining of chest pain- I did all the things, called for a doc, then looked up at me with these terrified eyes and asked if this is what a heart attack feels like and promptly coded (died- we couldn't get him back) most horrific experience ever. I'm sure I have more (working in an Er it all gets blurred thank god) but it was my first- on my watch- and I'll never forget it.
"Get Ready, Pickle..."Giphy
I worked in hospice for a few years I took care of this particular woman who was always telling these off-the-wall stories about her past that I truly want to believe because they are just epic! Like she would tell us all how she was a mafia assassin and crazy stuff like that. I'm not sure if I can believe them but I REALLY want to.
Anyway her last words were, and I quote:
"Get ready pickle, I'm about to f*ck sh!t up"
She winked at me and that was that I know it sounds horrible but I laughed... She was the most memorable patient I've ever had.
Smile Still On Her Face
Oh man, I have a bunch of these! I am a hospice nurse and I was asked to see one of the nuns in the Motherhouse. I got there and she was alert and lucid, no pain, no shortness of breath, nuthin'. I introduced myself and then her gaze shifted and she looked thru me to focus on a spot about 2 feet behind me. Her face lit up and she said with a big smile "It's YOU!"
And promptly died with the smile still on her face.
I Don't See The Light
I had a guy in the back of my ambulance that was having a heart attack and while I was treating him, his rhythm changed to V fib on the EKG monitor. V fib is disorganized electrical activity and is lethal. We both saw it happen and in the brief couple of seconds before he lost consciousness he looked at me and said "but I don't see the light". I worked the sh!t out of him but he died.