The things we are faced with at the end of life are unimaginable.

The mind is ready to unload it all in those last moments.

I suppose it's because when we know the end is coming, it's our last chance to try and make it right or unburden ourselves.

Just in case there is a hereafter.

And the people who always catch these last-minute monologues besides our loved ones?

Nurses and healthcare workers.

Redditormaaraa_hwanted to hear from healthcare workers who have been there in the end. They asked:

"Nurses of reddit, what where the most haunting things someone said on their deathbed?"

I have many a bean to spill. But I'd have to be on morphine to confess half of them.

I Confess

"So this happened a couple of years ago. We had an ex-gang guy who was dying of cancer and he confessed that he was the gang hit-man for many years. He wanted to confess to all the killings and show the police where the bodies are buried."

"He would get closure knowing that the surviving families of his victims find out where they are buried. We had to get the hospital legal team involved cause we had no policies to deal with that. Cops got involved and the dude confessed to gang murders from decades ago."


Tell Them

"Was an EMT-B on the 911 unit that got a call about a hit and run. Cops were on the scene first. The area of the city I worked in was rough. Some guy and his GF had got into a fight in the parking lot. It ended with the guy running over his GF, 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 and police officer joined 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 and I put it out of my mind rather quick 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 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."


Cats know things...

"I provided hospice care for a loved one so she could die in her own home rather than a hospital. At the end, she became convinced that taking morphine for the pain was killing 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 died her cat went from being aloof to sleeping on the bed with her. Cats know things."


Oh Irene!

"I had a patient whose memory had been fading for years. It’s weird, right before a patient dies, sometimes they’ll sudden 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 childbirth, and a few other memories for me."

"At one point, he says '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."


Wow. People really hold in a lot. Sad.

“Will I die?”

"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.'"


“don’t let it bother you”

"Not a nurse, but my grandfather was put into a 24/7 care home with severe Parkinson’s. My mom and grandma had spent 4 years basically taking care of him constantly and needed a break for a couple weeks (although visiting him every other day in shifts)."

"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 die, 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 emergency, as he was dying he looked at me and said 'don’t let it bother you' and died. Still bothers me."


Things in the world...

"While in hospice my grandma said to me... 'A, there are a great many things in this world worse than dying.' Then talked about how lucky she was to have lived the life she did. I had never looked at death like that before and that conversation truly changed me and my outlook. She was the most wonderful person."


“I found Jack”

"About 2 minutes before my grandma passed she had clarity (she’d suffered from severe dementia for years). She opened her eyes and said, 'I found Jack.' (My grandpa who’d died eight years prior). She said they were at a ball with their friends. Then she said, 'I’ve gotta go, he asked me to dance.' Then she was gone."


It's just death...

"Many moons ago when I was a nursing student, a man in his 40s was lying on his deathbed from terminal cancer, his sobbing wife lying in bed next to him. He looked at his wife, using the last bit of energy he had to gently wipe away her tears and stroke her cheek. He took off his oxygen mask and said 'don't worry love, don't be afraid. It's just death' and passed shortly after."



"Former CNA in the dementia unit of an assisted living facility. 'My dad is on his way to pick me up now.' She said that every time I checked on her until she died about a week after it started. While she was still mobile she would tidy her room and sit on the edge of her bed and just wait most of the day."


Wearing black...

"Not a nurse, but my mom, uncle, and aunt all said that when their grandfather died, he kept telling people to kick out, 'that bald headed *itch' out of the room. When they'd ask who, he'd say, 'the one wearing the black shawl, she keeps knocking on the window.' There was no one there obviously, they think he saw the reaper or something like that.



"My patient grabbed my arm, looked me in the eyes and said 'please don’t let me die, I have a daughter.'”


"This is the one that gets me. I’ve made peace with the idea that I’m going to die someday not of my choosing but the idea of leaving my young children alone in this world terrifies me and fuels my desire to be a better parent."


Late in Life

"I’ve had multiple people begging for their mothers. It made me even more sad because it was people well into their 80s/90s, who’s mothers were obviously no longer around."


"My 85 y/o grandmother passed away on Monday. The day before she passed, when she was still able to speak, she thought I was her mother. She looked in my eyes and said 'It’s my mama.' That’ll stick with me for the rest of my life. That, and the single tear that fell from her eye the moment she passed."


“it is what it is”

"My great uncle’s last words before he passed were 'it is what it is.' I know it’s really common but I find myself saying it quite a lot nowadays. It is what it is My great aunt who lived to be 101 was straight vegetative for like a month or so before passing, the day after her 101st birthday."

"On the day OF her birthday, she suddenly was conscious and awake as everybody had come to leave a birthday cake. She told stories and laughed. Then she went back to being comatose and died the next day. Woman loved her birthday lol."


Forget you Family

"Not a nurse but was a cop and I was with a 20 year old who took his own life. He checked into a nice hotel and his parents reported him missing. Anyways they found out he was in a hotel by a credit card charge. I was the responding officer and when I arrived, I knocked on the door he answered and was really cool. We chatted for a few minutes and I asked him if he was willing to come down stairs to meet with his parents."

"He went back into his room and I held the door open. It appeared he was putting on a jacket but he pulled out a gun, placed it on his temple and said, 'f**k my family, this is on them' and pulled the trigger. First time someone mulled themselves in front of me and wasn’t the last. That s**t haunts you years later."


"How long was I out for that time?"

"Looked after a guy with end stage heart failure. He kept having episodes where if he coughed or leaned forward - anything to increase his intra thoracic 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."

"Him and me were joking that one of these episodes were going to kill him, as he sipped his tea and we talked rubbish. 5 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 died. Such a nice dude, I want to be in that mindset when I go too."


“I didn’t want to kill the kids”

"Physical Therapist here. I treated a man in his nineties who was a DNR/DNI. At least once a week when I would go to his room to start our sessions he would cry and say 'I didn’t want to kill the kids.' After speaking to his nurse, it was revealed that he had killed children in WW2. He collapsed during a session and said 'the kids are here to get me.' He died a few minutes later."


‘beautiful, beautiful’

"My stepfather passed away last year. Towards the end he was very cranky and hadn’t treated my mother very kindly. Before he lost consciousness he was stroking her face saying ‘beautiful, beautiful’… that made me happy."



"My grandmother grasped the nurses hand and said 'I think I’m going to die now.' The nurse was telling her no she was doing much better and would likely leave soon but my grandmother was gone before she could finish her sentence. She knew."


"I’ve literally written 'impending sense of doom' on a patients chart. If they die I want it known I took them seriously! Doc laughed at me, I don’t care, I stand by upgrading that chart to a more serious code."


"I'm done"

"My dad was in the hospital and found out he had lung cancer. It was him, my step mom, and a nurse in the room. He told my step mom to get him something just to get her to leave the room. The nurse said that before she could stop him he took off his oxygen mask, said 'I'm done' and he 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 died in less than 5 minutes. I guess he really was done."


Let it go. Let it go. It's all you can do.

And thank you, healthcare workers.

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