"Last words are for fools who haven't said enough." ~ Karl Marx
We're fascinated by death and by extension a person's final moments. Many of those moments happen in hospitals so Reddit user procaineforthesoul asked "Doctors & Nurses of Reddit, what was the creepiest last words you heard from a patient right before they died?". Medical professionals and family members responded with a variety of experiences that tug on our heartstrings or keep us up at night.
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...had a patient come into the ER with shortness of breath. He started deteriorating in the ER, and then quite rapidly on the transport up the ICU. We got him wheeled into his room, replaced the ER lines and tubes with our own, and transferred him from the transport stretcher to his ICU bed. He actually did most of the transfer himself. He didn't say anything, but just before he died he pleasantly adjusted his own pillow, laid his head down, and then his eyes went blank. This man just made himself comfortable before laying down to die.
I'm an RT and had a vented trach patient in angio have the same thing happen. Vent waveforms got a little funky showing she needed suctioned. I walked up to her and saw bright red blood just start shooting up the vent circuit and immediately obstruct it.
I immediately said "she's hemorrhaging" and the vascular surgeon said "no it's just a little blood" thinking I was referring to his access site in her groin.
I popped her off of the vent and blood just started pouring out of her trach, mouth, and nose. She looked at me and said "just let me die."
The puddle of blood was about 6 feet in diameter on the floor within just a couple of minutes and I was covered from the chest down.
I've seen some sh*t, but that was the worst.
I'm a nurse and was previously working at an assisted living community on the dementia/Alzheimer's unit. My very favorite patient had been declining pretty steadily so I was checking on him very frequently. We would have long chats and joke around with each other, but in the last two weeks of his life, he stopped talking completely and didn't really acknowledge conversation directed at him at all. I finished my medication rounds for the evening and went to see him before I left. I told him I was leaving for the night and that I'd see him the following day, and he looked me in the eyes and smiled SO genuinely and said, "You look like an angel." I thought it was so sweet because he had not seemed lucid in weeks.
He died the next morning.
I work in a cardiac ICU. We had a patient who had a pulmonary artery rupture (a rare, but known complication of a Swan-Ganz catheter). One minute he was joking around with us and the next bright red blood was spewing out of his mouth. His last words before he died were "why is this happening to me?" It still haunts me years later.
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...said by my dad to the nurse, so close enough. Backstory: Dad had MS. He'd had it since he was 18. Diagnosed at 20, married my mom at 24, had me at 29, died 15 days short of 45. Six months before that, he was put on hospice. He and Mom were discussing funeral arrangements, and my mom jokingly said, "You know Tim, the best thing you could do would be to die on a Wednesday. That way we can have the body prepared on Thursday, the viewing on Friday, and the memorial on Saturday, so more people could come.
The morning we got the call that it was time, my mom, two sisters, and I were about five minutes too late. After we said our goodbyes, the nurse pulled my mom aside and asked if that day had any significance. It's not even 6 am yet, so Mom doesn't even know what day it IS much less if it's important. The nurse tells her it's May 21st. No... nothing is coming to mind.
The nurse told her that the previous day he kept asking what day it was and they'd tell him it was the 20th. He'd look irritated but accept it. That morning, he asked what day it was, and they said, "It's Wednesday, May 21st." He smiled, squeezed his favorite nurse's hand, and was gone almost immediately.
It was Memorial Day weekend, and we did just as he and Mom had planned. And despite many friends being out of town for the holiday, we had over 250 people show up at the memorial service, overflowing the tiny church more than it had ever been filled. To his dying day, he was trying to make things easier for our family. I miss him.
"Get home safe, little one." It wasn't what he said - he said the same thing to me any time I had him as a patient for the evening. It was how he said it. He gave me this look and pause like he knew. The DNR's in my experience, always know when it's time.
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My first hospice case. She was on morphine and started mock smoking. She looked at me, took my hand and said "please" in the most pleading voice I've ever heard. I sat with her body until the corner arrived. She has no friends or family. Only her lawyer showed up. I've only done one hospice case since.
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My grandma died in 1989 my grandfather (Bob) died around 1965. She never remarried, never dated, but she did have a great life.
When she was dying she yelled "Bob Bob here I come.. Oh honey I've missed you so much!"
We always joked that we were glad she didn't yelled "Bob who the hell is that"?
Checked in on a patient before the end of my shift and she was in good spirits, had been joking with me the whole time. Her condition was tenuous (new trach) but she had been positive throughout. I asked how she was doing and she replied by singing "The old gray mare ain't what she used to be" and wished me a good night.
I came in the next morning and she had coded and died overnight.
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...all of my family members who have died with people nearby to watch them pass have talked about seeing people in the room with us. Usually they talk about long passed family members, honestly I find it more comforting then anything else. My grandma was the most recent, she talked about seeing her two children that she outlived (one died when she was ~7, the other was my uncle who died last year) then her eyes lit up and she had a big smile and said to the air "You've grown!" and my uncle (not the dead one obviously) asked her who she was talking to, she gave him the name that he and his wife had picked for a child they had who was stillborn.
My grandpa on the same side of the family was having conversations with his long dead brothers, then smiled and his last words were "I see Jesus."
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My father in law sat at his mother's bed side for days as she was dying. She was in and out of it and spent a lot of time in conversation with her parents and siblings- who were all long dead.
One of the last intelligible things she said was, "leave the gate open, Rodney. I'm coming."
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DNR patient was on comfort cares. Was on a high dose of morphine and hallucinating. She would alternate between grasping for things not there and trying to climb out of bed. She was too unsteady to walk so my job was to sit in the room and make sure she was safe. She tried to get up and I went to ask her what she needed. She grabbed my arm and pulled me down towards her face and said, very angrily, "kill me"
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An amazing friend of mine, Kevin, who died a little more than 18 years ago. I went in to visit him at the hospital on what ended up being the final day of his life and, when he and I were finally alone, he leaned over to me and said "Stan, there have been angels in my room, on and off, since just before sunrise." I ask him if he thought it was the morphine (which, normally, he would have been the first to suggest/lol), and he said "No, I'm not f-ing with you, buddy... I'm not talking about 'feeling' angels or anything... There are actual angels who keep coming into my room." I asked him if they were frightening and he replied, "No, they're actually making me calm the fuck down a little bit." He passed, later that evening.
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I was in the army in pakistan to for humanitarian support after an earthquake. There was a very serious svhool bus crash when a road gave was and a dozen kids were killed.
The first kid that we took off the "ambulance" and put on the stretcher to carry into our triage tent said (more like screamed) something in Urdu. When we got there the doc asked the translators what he said, it was "the spiders are eating papa".
My grandfather was on hospice care at home and for 2 days he told us that he had to go with "the little red-haired girl." We didn't know what he was talking about.
When he died, we cleaned him up and called the hospice nurse on duty, who came right over. I happened to be the one to answer the door and there she stood: 5 foot 2 or so, with gorgeous blue eyes and the most beautiful red hair you've ever seen. I couldn't even manage "hello", but my grandmother looked around me and said very cheerfully "Please come in, he's been waiting for you."
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A nice old lady who told my CNA she wanted to wear all white. When asked why, she said "the man in black is here." She looked in the corner of the room. The CNA looked, but there was no one there. That's when I came into the room. We asked her to describe what she was seeing and she said "he's in all black, and he's got a top hat on." Then she whispered "and his eyes are red" while her eyes moved across the room to directly behind the CNA, like she was watching him move closer to us. She died later that night. But it was unexpected. That room creeped me out for a long time after that.
My grandfather's brother, he died exactly 6 hours after my grandfather and just minutes before he died he said "I'm going to see you again brother"
He didn't know at the time that my grand dad (his brother) had died. The family were going to tell him the next morning because he was having a bad day.
Grandfather died this year at 86. He was in Nashville in a hospital for pneumonia. I was working and was going to go down there the next day to see him. My mother called me and said he was passing soon and if I wanted to talk to him. I said yes and this was the conversation verbatim:
Me: Hey Papaw, it's Markie. How's it going?
Grandfather: I'm sick.
Me: Can you hang on for a few more hours and I'll be there?
Grandfather: Nope, I'm outta here.
Me: I love you.
He died before the phone hung up. Really bothered me with how accepting he was of his own death. I think about it everyday.
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I had an old lady flag me down in the hallway a few days before she died and with her emaciated face and bulging eyes, she said, "You know where I'm going." I asked her what she meant and she repeated herself. "You know where I'm going when I die. And it ain't up."
I was taken aback and asked her if she wanted to talk with the priest we have on staff. She shook her head and said, "It's too late for that."
A few days later, she was eating her supper and started screaming. She yelled, "Fire! Fire! There's fire everywhere!" She died a few hours later, quite suddenly.
I didn't sleep that night and I really hope her soul found some rest.
My beloved Grandpa was in the hospital, ill with pneumonia and sepsis. I thought he would recover. He was asking to see me and my family, so I went with my parents, my husband and my two little boys. Grandpa couldn't talk, but he was lucid and was watching TV in his room. He motioned for a pen and paper. He scribbled something on a scrap of paper and gave it to my oldest boy, who was about 12 at the time. It said, "I love you." When we were leaving the hospital, it hit me me that Grandpa was saying goodbye and I started to bawl like a baby. Grandpa had passed before I got home. He held on just to see me and my boys one more time.
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I was a hospice nurse for many years. Super gratifying job for a nurse, surprisingly. As a "regular" nurse, you are rarely offered thanks. Hospice nursing is an island unto itself. Mostly peaceful, lots of times sad, often a blessing.
This is sad, but also creepy, and I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it. Had a 20 year old kid, gang member, who was dying of primary liver cancer. Super unusual, aggressive, and terminal. He was angry at the universe. His family was there to comfort him, but he literally spit in their faces. Every ounce of energy he had left was angry and mean and ugly. His mom would beg him to lighten up and accept Jesus into his heart. He would swing at her and tell her to eff herself. The family remained beside, in hopes he would chillout at the end.
His last day, hours, moments, he was angry. The family called me into the room, and told me they thought he was going (he wasn't responding, Cheyne-Stokes breaths, eyes glossy and skin cold--the end was imminent.) His lovely mother, in her dearest attempt, whispered to him to go towards the light, to her Jesus. With his dying breath he opened his eyes, looked at her and said "Eff your Jesus!!!". A second or two later, he slowly turned his head to the to the left, and got the most horrific look on his face as if he was looking at something we couldn't see, and horrified, like in a bad movie, his face contorted, and he screamed with his last breath, eyes wide, "Oh sh*t, oh sh*t, OH NOOOOOOO!!!!", then made a guttural noise and promptly fell back into the bed and died. Every family member was shaking and too frightened to speak, and I left the room and took two days off. I don't care if I never find out what he saw.