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lillycoyote's avatar

Have you ever received any "deathbed" advice or "parting words" from a loved one?

Asked by lillycoyote (24835points) April 18th, 2012

I won’t judge you if you won’t judge me.

My mother: She died from complications from meningitis. She was in a coma for two weeks, she came out of it and we thought she had dodged a bullet, that we would have her back, but she died three days later of a pulmonary embolism.

She was still a little loopy but reasonably coherent and she told me: “Don’t have sex outside of marriage and learn to play an instrument, it will serve you the rest of your life.”

LOL. I actually almost really laughed when she said that, it was really so kind of weird.

She was a reasonably devout, though not dogmatic or doctrinaire Lutheran and while her vocation was statistics professor, her avocation, her true devotion was music, so it didn’t really surprise me. I just kind of had to laugh: Mom, both those ships have already sailed. You and I both know it. You provided me with violin, flute, guitar and piano lessons as a child to no avail. I am now 40. I don’t think the learning to play an instrument thing is really going to happen. And as to the no sex outside of marriage thing? Sorry. You and I both know that ain’t happening.

Then, when things got bad with my father, and I told him I was going to call an ambulance and we were going to the hospital he said: “However this works out, I wish you the best of luck.”

I was kind of like WTF? “I wish you the best of luck.” WTF kind of thing is that to say. We went to the hospital and three days later he was dead. “I wish you the best of luck?” That was five years ago and I am still trying to wrap my mind around that one.

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17 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@lillycoyote I hope you don’t mind, but I cannot help finding the humor in your parents’ statements. I’m glad that you can laugh about their last wishes for you know, even if it was emotional at the time.

My family members tend to be very pragmatic. When the paternal grandmother was dying and Mom was pregnant with me, Mom requested that the family not tell her about it. The word leaked out, and as the story goes, her last words to her husband were, “Buy some diapers for the baby.”

When my sister Chris was in the last stages of cancer, she could no longer speak or write although still conscious. Emotion seemed to have been wiped out as well. And then one day, another sister, the person Chris was closest to, was able to join the vigil. Sitting at her bedside, Chris looked her in the eyes and brushed her fingers along the other sister’s cheek.

JLeslie's avatar

No I haven’t. I never really thought about it before. I haven’t lost many people though, and I have not lost my parents yet. I think my dad would be inclined to do something like this.

ragingloli's avatar

Why did you not put “loved ones” in quotes? Also, no.

ro_in_motion's avatar

My temptation is to answer: ’‘When my father was dying, he asked me to come closer. Closer. He whispered: ‘You’re standing on my oxygen line.’”

Both of my parents died in action: my dad running; my mother driving. However, the very last conversation with my father was awesome. For the first time in my life, he acknowledged my skill and talent and told me that I should pursue my dreams. Up to then, he constantly criticised my career choices. Had he not said that, I would have become even more damaged than I was.

janbb's avatar

The last time I saw my mother was about two motnhs before she died. She came out of one of her silent periods in the middle of the visit to say, “Jan, I like your hair.”

I can’t remember my Dad’s actual alst words but I do remember that twice in the last six months of his life he said to me, “You do everything so well,” That truly meant a lot to me.

filmfann's avatar

My Mom was in the hospital for pnemonia, but seemed to have it beat. The whole family came to see her, and we went into her room 2 at a time, and she blessed us, saying what our strengths were, and giving us advice for the future. This kind of upset my sister, because my Mom just wasn’t sick enough to think she was about to die.
The next day she came down with ARDS, and went into a coma, where she remained for 3 weeks when she died.

GoldieAV16's avatar

My dad was on a breathing tube, so he couldn’t speak. He wrote me a note that said, “Aisle Of View.”

It was extremely frustrating for me, as I couldn’t figure out what he wanted that was so important. He kept stabbing the pencil at the words, prompting me to get it. I thought maybe he was referring to ‘the light,’ lol. Tears were stinging my eyes, as a lifetime of being a little kid not getting it beside this great man flashed before me. “Dad, I just don’t get it! Aisle of View? Aisle of View?”

“Oh. Aisle of View.”

What a frustrating man he was. Brilliant but emotionally so difficult, right to the end.

janbb's avatar

@GoldieAV16 It seems to me he was saying, “I love you.” Did you not get that? Or did I not get that you did get it?

CaptainHarley's avatar

During the last conversation I had with my father, he actually told me he loved me. I don’t remember him ever telling me that before.

GoldieAV16's avatar

janbb, I did get it, but not at first. Not until I said it out loud a few times. Seemed a bit cryptic, lol.

Judi's avatar

My sons girlfriend at the time (wife now) was pregnant. They made a big deal about getting a blessing for the baby from my dying mom and put her on the spot. She put her hands on my daughter in laws belly and said, “Good luck kid, you’re gonna need it!”
My daughter in law was kind of horrified and they left. Mom realized pretty quickly that she had offended them. When things were getting pretty bad she kept asking for my son so she could apologize. We finally convinced him to call her so she could rest in peace. The truth is, mom was right. We Were all worried about the type of parent our son would be. He has mental health issues and the pressure of parenting is tough.
She told my daughter, who is one of those people who has a right way to do everything (no one else can load her dishwasher) that there are lots of different ways to do things right. My daughter has tried hard to take that to heart and have more patience with others.

Seek's avatar

@GoldieAV16 Unrelated, sort of, but “Aisle of View” is a great Xanth book by Piers Anthony.

The only people I was close with who have passed were my grandmothers. In both cases my mother did not inform me of their condition until it ws too late for me to speak to them. In fact, I didn’t know about my father’s mother until after the funeral.

lillycoyote's avatar

Thank you all so much for your answers. I know it may have been painful or difficult to talk about these things.

I have just always wondered how much deathbed statements or near deathbed statements actually occur in real life or whether it is more of a Hollywood creation. In films, when there is deathbed or “dying in someone’s arms” kind of scene occurs the dying person is generally, but not in all cases, simply portrayed as physically weak and near death, but lucid and coherent enough to express complete, meaningful ideas. I don’t know how often that is actually the case when people are dying. Also, of course, they are not portrayed being on respirators, generally, as @GoldieAV16 dad was, I don’t think.

And both of my parents died when I was not there, very late at night or in the middle of the night, when I had already gone home from the hospital for the night, and that has been the case with most of my friends when a parent or parents have died. One person I know was holding vigil in her mom’s hospital room but she had fallen asleep when her mother died. I know two people who were caring for loved ones a home and both had left the room for on 15 minutes or so and returned to find the person dead. Everyone I know that wasn’t there, including myself, has felt bad or felt some guilt to some degree for not being with them at the exact moment of death. Except for my friend who was one of the primary caretakers for who mother, along with her mother’s boyfriend and hospice workers. She believes that her mother chose that moment to die, when my friend was out of the room, in order to spare her the pain of that moment of death. Who knows? It’s possible.

And @GoldieAV16 thank you for posting that. It’s really very sweet. It’s kind of interesting too. I know my dad loved me but he always expressed his love for my mother and his children by action, not words. I used to hug my dad a lot and tell him I loved him, and on two occasions he said “I love you too” but both times were very strange. It was almost like he was actually physically incapable of saying it, actually physically incapable of getting the words out of his mouth. The two times he said it: once he said it so quickly, the words were so slurred together, that I could barely understand that that was what he said and the other time, he said the words in such a strange and stilted manner that it sounded like he had some kind of speech impediment. I don’t know why it is so hard for some of these kinds of men to say the actual words. But then again, those who can say the words don’t necessarily mean them.

and @Pied_Pfeffer At this point, I think what my parents said to me is pretty funny too. After my mom came out of the coma she progressed, over the next 3 or 4 days from being extremely disoriented and confused to just being kind of loopy to being pretty coherent. She thought and said a fair amount of crazy stuff over the course those days.

And my dad, by the time he said that to me, in the past year and a half of his life had gotten, cognitively, rather fuzzy around the edges. He had suffered a serious of small strokes that had caused moderate dementia in a numbers of areas of functioning. But like your family, they were pretty pragmatic, down to earth people, not given to a lot of drama or deep, meaningful speeches or pronouncements about love and that sort of thing.

and @janbb and @ro_in_motion I’m glad you got to hear those things from your dads before they died. That kind of thing really matters and not everyone gets that.

Thanks again, everyone, for answering.

Sunny2's avatar

@lillycoyote If your dad had said, “Good luck, darlin’,” would it have made more sense? He was just hoping things would go well for you, using a rather formal way of expressing it.
I haven’t experienced any deathbed words. All the deathbeds I’ve been present at, the people were too sick to say anything. I’ll make a point of saying things before I get that far along. I hope.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Sunny2 I think I knew that, really, already. I think that was really what he was trying to say, in the end, in his own way. But thank you for putting it out there, in that way, for me. Right up front.

Honestly, it has made my eyes well up with tears, a little bit, you’re putting in out for me like that. Thank you. :-)

“Good luck, darlin’”

That really was what he was saying to me, wasn’t it?

Now, the welling up has become a gusher. Damn you, @Sunny2. You’ve made me cry now, and I think it’s going to turn into buckets, in a minute or two. But thank you, so much. That has made it as clear as day to me, so clear that it hurts. :-)

Sunny2's avatar

Tears are usually a necessary part of loss. Let them come.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Sunny2 No worries in that department. I have no problem whatsoever letting the tears flow, even after all these years. I’m a big cry baby and they are a release and a blessing to me, actually… afterwards at least, if not during. Grieving the loss of someone close to you means that you loved and were loved. That is life. If you have never loved anyone or been loved then you really don’t care all that much when people die, right? April 4th and April 5th were, respectively, the 13th anniversary of my mother’s death and the 5th anniversary of my father’s death. It’s been on my mind and so the “Good luck, darlin’” of yours was a straight shot to my heart.

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