Working in a hospital has got to be a pretty stressful job. And, while helping sick people all day is probably a big enough challenge, you've gotta think about the sheer number of people doctors and nurses watch pass away on a daily basis. Well, even worse, sometimes they have some things to say before they finally shuffle off this mortal coil. And sometimes those things are kind of...disturbing. Here are the most haunting and creepy last words of dying hospital patients, as told by real doctors and nurses.
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.
"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. It's creepy.
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. It really messed with me.
Nurse here - 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 don't care that I'm not a nurse, but this was 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.
I found one of my "comfort measures only" patients standing at the side of his bed. It surprised me because he had been mostly unresponsive during my shift. I helped him back into bed and he asked me why all these people were in his room. He suddenly became quite again and I noticed he wasn't breathing.
He was a DNR so there wasn't anything to do to try to bring him back. Looking back he may have been talking about me and the CNA that was helping me get him back into bed, but who knows what or who he was seeing the last minutes of his life. Still creeps me out a little when I think about it.
Back when I was a cna this one resident fell off a bike for exercise in pt and seized, they came to and became lucid and said I think I'm dying but everyone in the room assured her that wasn't going to happen, she seized up and was dead within minutes.
DNR patient was on comfort cares. Was on a high dose of morphine and hallunating. 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". That one f**ked with me for awhile.
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.
Not a nurse, not a doctor, but I'm an apprentice funeral director. We went to a nursing home on a removal and as we were walking down the hall one of the patients got antsy and opened the door to his room and saw us walking with the stretcher.
Came into an early shift and was handed over a patient who'd been very anxious and had a panic attack overnight. He was anxious all morning but obs all fine, ecg fine and so I just asked someone to sit with him to keep an eye on him/reassure him for me. He gets worse, really panicky, heavy breathing, he's on his side in the foetal position. Drs will be in in 10 minutes so I tell him I'll get them to him as soon as they come in but ask if he'll lie on his back for me to help his breathing.
He tells me he won't make it until they get here and that he won't face the other way. Obs still all fine at this point but he's more agitated so again I suggest he move position for comfort and that's when he says 'I won't make it until the Drs get here. If I turn to face the other way I'll die'. He repeated this a few times to me.
He arrested literally as the Drs walked in and he died on the side he'd been refusing to turn to. I'm convinced he knew.
Not a hospital story, but according to my family my Great-Grandfather was unresponsive his final few days, but suddenly sat bolt upright in the bed and then had a huge smile and raised his hands out as if greeting someone. Then he fell back and died.
Not a doctor or nurse, but 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."
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
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.
“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.”
“I once worked as a nurse and I had a gentleman who didn’t want a wash one morning and said to me ‘the next time you wash me I will be dead.’ I thought he was just being morbid like the old guys are and then he asked to his wife and got quite agitated, I went to continue with the other patients and I got a call to help with someone who died…turns out he was right.”
“ER physician here, had heard many last words from patients but the creepiest one has to be of a man who was on his last breaths as he succumbed to renal failure. He said, ‘I see a bright light…Horses…No eyes…No…NO…NOOO!’ as he’d loudly yell, at this point he was crashing when he suddenly woke up, looked up and with his last breath he said ‘I understand…’ and he died.
We know in the medical field that these situations are provoked by a cascade of neurotransmitters in disarray due to tissue and organ failure but I sometimes have my doubts and perhaps we are seeing more than we are led to believe.”
“I was in the army in Pakistan to for humanitarian support after an earthquake. There was a very serious school 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.’
We all just looked at each other for a second, then just proceeded with triage.”
“‘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 DNRs in my experience, always know when it’s time. It’s creepy.”
“Ugh. 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 bedside, in hopes he would chill out 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 shit, oh shit, 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.”
“My mom was watching over my great-grandfather in the hospital. He’d been unresponsive for a day or so, when suddenly he said: ‘It’s about damn time you got here! I’ve been waiting!’ And then he died.”
“I’ve commented this somewhere before but it’s stayed with me! I’m an RN and while I was a student I was caring for a lady who had end-stage renal failure, had a DNAR and was shutting down. We were having a little chat, well I was chatting away while helping her put on some lotion, when she stopped, looked over my shoulder and said ‘Bill’s here, love, I’ve got to go’ and swiftly stopped breathing. Read her old notes and Bill was her deceased husband.”
“I worked a bank shift in A&E a few months ago. A young man was in a horrible car crash, his face was covered in blood and had a compound fracture of his clavicle but conscious, he was screaming ‘Don’t tell me she’s dead, where is she???’ before succumbing to his injuries an hour later. His girlfriend had died instantly in the crash.”
“This afternoon, my wife and I were just remembering an amazing friend of mine, Kevin, who died a little more than 18 years ago. We did the math and realized that the son he left behind is now the same age that Kevin was when he passed, which gave me pause, to say the least. Kevin died from a recurrence of the same type of cancer that had first shown up in him while he was still in his teens. The same cancer (seriously, fuck cancer) had also taken his father also at the age of 34 when Kev was just about the same age as his kid. He was a warm, funny, kind, no-bullshit guy who had zero capacity for flowery talk or mysticism, you know? He was a real cash-and-carry kind of dude. So, you’ll understand why his last conversation with me has comforted me for nearly two decades, now.
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 fucking 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.
You know, I have always had (and still have) doubts about there being anything after this life. And, of course, the pragmatic part of my brain recognizes that it certainly could have been the medications he was taking, or some further metastasis to his brain, right? But, if I’m being honest about what my gut tells me, or, my heart? There were angels in my friend’s room..”
“I’m working on my mother’s eulogy for tomorrow’s wake. I’m going to go into detail for anyone that is smoking because I think it’s something you should reconsider.
My mom was diagnosed with terminal lung and pancreatic cancer, mass had developed around her vocal cords and made it hard for her to speak. She smoked all of her life, and it finally caught up with her. It attacked her quick, from time she was diagnosed, to time she passed away, it was less than two weeks. First she lost her voice, then she had difficulty breathing, became weak, she couldn’t walk too far, then she could only walk a little, then nothing at all, she had trouble eating. The night she died I let her smoke her cigarette, (doctor said it didn’t matter anymore) and my sister and I took mom into her bed and I knew as did my sister, it was the last time, we spent a few hours with her, holding her and I got up, lost it a bit, and my mom said ‘Don’t be sad’ loudly with all her might.
I was fortunate to be with my mother at that time, she was due to have hospice that Monday but she did not make it, lung cancer kills quickly. I hope none of you have to deal with that, consider it that next cigarette, it’s just a matter of time. Well, enough preaching.”
“Not a medical professional, but my dad was dying at home and had been pretty out of it for a few days. The few times he was conscious, he would talk about all the people in his room and that they were climbing the walls, staring at him from under the bed, generally crazy shit. The last thing he said before the end was to my sister: ‘Are you going to bury me today?’ Totally fucked all of us up. He died the next day.”
“The guy was gobbling down his breakfast and was refusing to have his blood glucose checked. And we knew that he would need insulin because of his history. I expressed my concern and he told me, ‘I have faced death many times before.’ He’s nearly blind, missing a few digits, you get the picture.
I came back 30 minute later to check on him. He was unconscious and turning nearly blue. We coded him and recovered him to the ICU basically brain-dead. They pulled the plug on him a week later. Turned out he had choked on a piece of egg from the breakfast he was eating.”
“‘The Devil has been in my room all night, but don’t worry, God is with you.’ This man had like the worst death ever, too. He had a horrendous seizure and died with his eyes wide open and had a horrible grimace on his face. He had also been yelling all night about the ‘Devil’ and saying over and over, ‘Get out of here! This building’s gonna blow!’”
“I had a resident at end of life on comfort care. I went into say goodbye and she opened her eyes, looked right at me, and said ‘Help, they’re torturing me.’ It was awful, she was drugged to hell and gone but obviously still feeling pain.”
“I’m a paramedic—an elderly woman (cc of dizziness) grabbed my arm and asked me to tell the man with no head to get off of her dresser. She coded immediately after, from NSR to asystole like someone snapped their fingers.
A second one was a 9-year-old struck by a vehicle—he said, ‘I see the line. Tell mom I’ll be back.’ His eyes rolled back in his head, and he went into v-tach. We worked him all the way to the hospital, and for another 40 minutes in the trauma bay before he passed.”
“When my grandmother was dying someone had to me with her all day, one night my cousin volunteered to sit with her and was just talking with a half-lucid woman. The house she lives in was creepy, the lights from the family room didn’t reach the stairs or the hallway so the light you had was it. Around 1AM my grandmother starts making faces at the stairs and when my cousin asks what’s wrong grandma responds ‘I just wish that man on the stairs would quit staring at us.’
Later on into the night my cousin mentions how more family is arriving the next day and grandma says ‘well it doesn’t matter, tomorrow I’ll be dead and so will you.’
My cousin didn’t volunteer to sit with Grandma after that night.”
“I’m a hospital chaplain: When I was a CPE intern (a greenhorn) I went to see a patient in the ICU who had 10 to 12 oranges on her table. We talked about oranges for about 20 minutes and then she said, ‘Something’s going to happen.’
I went to check on her the next day and the nurse mentioned that she passed the previous night. I asked if anyone else talked with her and she said no. So, the last conversation she had was about oranges with me. I kind of wish we talked about something else; however, the nurse said that was a worthy conversation that the patient wanted to talk about. It made me feel better.”
"I'm not a nurse but an EMT-B on the 911 unit. We'd gotten a call about a hit and run, and cops were on the scene first. Some guy and his girlfriend had gotten into a fight in a parking lot. It ended with him running her over, then backing up over her. She wasn't doing well, and her vitals were tanking. We loaded her up, and she kept mumbling, 'Tell my mom. Please, tell my mom.' Naturally, I figured she was asking us to let her mom know she was hurt. The hospital takes care of that, so I put it out of my mind as we were working over her.
She flatlined before we arrived. They didn't 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 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 college.
I realized then that in the ambulance, she was asking us to tell her mom she'd gotten into college. That is a deep sadness I have never forgotten." —u/Nspired_1
"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, but she was in a clear state for the moment. She asked, 'Will I die?' I said, 'Yes.' She looked me in the eye, smiled just a little, and said, 'Sometimes, you've got to 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've got to do what you don't want to do.'" —u/-Silouan-