A teenage girl who was having an asthma attack while she was at someone’s house she wasn’t supposed to be at: “my mom’s gonna kill me” :-( She died at the hospital.
I’m an emergency nurse, and there’s one thing that always gets me when patients die. Not what they say, but what their husband/wife/parents say when they’ve gone. I’ve had it a few times but the most memorable was a man in his 70s whose wife had just passed away, and he was holding her hand and crying, and he just looked up at me and said, ‘I’ve loved her for 55 years, she’s my whole life. What do I do without her?’ It breaks me every time.
Had a patient in her 30’s who was dying after being hit by a drunk driver. Her husband was at the bedside repeating “What do I do? What do I do?” while crying. They had already lost their baby girl in the accident. Every healthcare worker who entered that room was deeply affected by that. It was awful.
(Nurse) In hospital caring for 40ish man with brain tumor, coming in and out of consciousness. Not to be resuscitated. His 16 year-old daughter was crying non-stop for 12 hours. His wife, who had been given a few months to prepare herself, was calm and focused on her husband. I had to routinely check his level of consciousness which involved talking to him in a loud voice (responds to auditory stimulation), which I did not like to do. So I asked his wife to do the loud voice part, so the voice he would hear would be hers not mine, and she did so without hesitation. The only response we observed with. her vocalization was that this by now profoundly unconscious patient took her hand to his lips and kissed it. He stopped breathing very soon after that. I am haunted, but not in a bad way.
My husband is a PICU nurse and one morning he came home in a bit of a daze. I asked him what was wrong and he told me about a little boy who had been in PICU for a few days already and wasn’t getting better. Most nights, the little boy would wake up so one of the nurses would keep him company while he fell asleep again. My husband was doing just that, he read him a book then just sat there with the boy listening to music so he would go back to sleep. Before falling asleep the little boy said “You were my favorite”. The boy passed away in the morning, his little heart gave out and refused to restart.
Although all patients are important, some leave more of an impression than others. Until that point, that little boy hadn’t stood out to my husband and he felt terrible about it because, clearly, he had made a big impression on that little boy. That was the only patient’s funeral he has ever attended.
Sweet guy in his 20s with endocarditis (heart valve infection) caused by IV drug abuse. I was prepping him for his third open heart surgery when he sat up, looked me in the eye, and said, “I’m going to die, aren’t I?” He did not survive the surgery.
It wasn’t words, but the most haunting death was a patient who was DNR, through her and her family’s wishes. She was losing her battle, and her family wasn’t there. She was getting frantic and looking around and half sitting up in bed, and a nurse with more experience than me, took her hand and calmly said, “it’s ok. You’re not alone. We’re right here with you; it’s ok to leave.” The patient immediately calmed, put her head back on the pillow and died.
I knew I wanted to be that nurse when I grew up. How the hell did she know just what to do and say? I’ve never forgotten it.
When I was a senior resident a young man (late 20s) was admitted for pneumonia. He got worse quickly and I was called to his room to help while on call that night. He was having trouble breathing and needed intubated. I explained all this to him and that I would sedate him and them get him intubated so we could help him breathe. He agreed and we got everything ready. The last thing he said to me was “Doc, please don’t let me die.” I told him I would do my very best. I got him intubated and transferred to the ICU. A few weeks later I was on call covering the ICU and he was barely hanging on. I knew he would not make it through the night. He went into V-fib several times and I was able to bring him back, but only briefly. He was just too sick and he died shortly after that. It was horrible talking to his mother and girlfriend and comforting them knowing the last words he ever spoke were to me saying please don’t let me die.
Nursing home. Most elderly people are at ease as they get nearer and nearer to death. But this old lady, as she deteriorated over her last week or so, would SCREAM:
I DON’T WANT TO DIE! I DON’T WANT TO DIE! I DON’T WANT TO DIE! I DON’T WANT TO DIE!
Really heartbreaking to see.
With wide eyes, “Don’t listen to my family, they want to keep my around forever but I just want to die. They won’t let me.”
I was visiting my grandpa and had to leave town and go back to medical school, and I told him I loved him and would see him later. He told me he loved me too, but no I wouldnt. He was right, he died a week later of pneumonia.
Not the very last words, but I had a patient in her early 20s who was severely thrombocytopenic and bleeding profusely for days ask me if she was going to make it, I had to look her in the eyes and tell her there is a good chance she wouldn’t. I thought she would bust into tears but no, she just kind of sat back and accepted it, I think she already knew. She died shortly after I got off shift.
RN here. I don’t remember this guy’s admitting diagnosis (he wasn’t assigned to me), but my coworker asked me to help start an IV on him; he needed a unit of blood and his peripheral access had gone bad. I placed a tourniquet and was ready to stick, then he looked at me and said “I’m dying.” Immediately went unresponsive. I checked his pupils; I watched one dilate & the other constrict. We coded him; never got him back.
Hospice nurse here- had a patient who was experiencing terminal agitation. With an expression of complete terror on his face he said “help me! They are coming to get me.”
Not a medic. My friend’s brother committed suicide, he hung himself in his closet while she watched TV in the living room. The last thing he said before going upstairs was “I’m going to rest”. That weirded her out because he never spoke like that.
Not a medical worker, but when I was 14 my friends and I were joking around before our 7th period theater class. My one friend, who was always a big goof, was playing along with a joke that he and another classmate were breaking up and said, “This relationship is over!” Then spun around around and fell to the floor for dramatic effect. Except it wasn’t for dramatic effect, because he actually suffered heart failure and died instantly from an unknown condition (acute myocarditis). None of us realized it and laughed along. I even picked up his glasses from the floor and put them on to tease him about how blind he was. When I tried to give him his glasses back I was struck by how discolored his face was, and then blood began to pour from his mouth. That’s when the screaming started. Absolutely fucked me as a 14 year old to realize we could all just drop dead at any moment.
My pop died of lung cancer. The last lucid thing he did was wake up just long enough to sing “Show me the way to go home. I’m tired and I want to go to bed. I had a little drink about an hour ago and it went right to my head”. It was really pretty amazing and freaky at the same time.
Working caregiver in my earlier days I overheard an old woman console her dying husband.
Went like this..
Dammit jim you have beat so many things in your life. For heaven’s sake you beat that murder charge for that guy you killed. You can beat this..
She did not know I was listening. Dude died the next day.
It’s not words that haunt me. It’s the last few agonal breaths, gasping and gurgling, before they are gone. I still remember the first patient I lost as we stood by as per patient/family request. Haunting.
Not a medical worker, but I went with my father to say goodbye to my great-uncle (his uncle). He was suffering from dementia and clearly on the way out — he no longer recognized people.
My father was an only child, and spent most of his time being raised by his uncles, as his father ran a farm all day.
Anyway, we’re sitting there, and great-uncle is snoozing. He suddenly wakes up and clearly sees my father and starts talking to him about a barn and describing it in great detail. Like, he’s talking about where it is, the way the paint was flaking off in one corner, and so on.
My father is quieter than normal and just saying “yes” over and over as he describes the barn.
Then, just before great-uncle loses consciousness, he describes going into the barn and setting it on fire.
Turns out that my grandfather and great-uncle were having a helluva dispute at one time and burned down the barn to get back at him. Everyone suspected, but never knew for sure.
Had a patient on the cardiac icu during my second month of intern year who had newly diagnosed heart failure that we couldn’t figure out what caused it.
He was a healthy guy. In his 60s. Did yoga every day, walked a few miles 5 days a week. Genuinely nice guy which is always a bad prognostic sign.
With his heart failure, his heart was so stretched out and not squeezing adequately to provide the blood and subsequent oxygen he needs to the rest of his body. A few nights into his hospital stay, I come in the next morning and discovered that the senior resident had to code him for sustained unstable heart arrhythmia ( unstable v tach). I went and talked with him about it the next morning and he told me that he was in and out of consciousness during it all (from the low blood pressure) but he compared it to the feeling of jumping out of the plane and sky diving.
Later that morning I was checking on him again and he didn’t look so good. He goes into the arrhythmia again, drops his blood pressure, and is in and out of consciousness. As I’m charging the defibrillator to shock him again, he comes back around to and briefly and asks me if I’m taking him sky diving again and let’s out a nervous laugh before losing consciousness.
Not a medical worker, but my friend’s husband was dying from cancer.
He’d done lots of chemo and one surgery and overall his prognoses looked really good. He’d gone through another surgery, and he was due to be released from the hospital a couple days after this story takes place.
My friend had been with him and was going back home to sleep for the night. Just before she left his room, he said “I’m going to miss you my love” and obviously she thinks nothing of it, saying “I’ll miss you too. I’ll be back in the morning”
Couple hours later he was gone.
As a Pediatrician, i dont hear alot of last words. What i can never forget is the inconsolable, grief-stricken cries of the parents when i tell them their child has passed away. It’s the hardest part of my job
My buddy who went on to be a doctor had an elderly female patient. Probably 90-100 years old. Her daughter left the room to get coffee and my buddy had to check on her vitals. They were normal. Then she woke up, smiled and got teary eyed. She said “i knew you’d come back for me, im sorry i didnt marry you. My family wouldnt let me. But i will now, i promise.” My buddy just held her hand and smiled. She laid back and closed her eyes and her heart stopped. She had a DNR and was gone just like that. Her daughter had no clue what she meant. Her husband had been dead for 10 years and they were married since they were 20.
My buddy doesn’t know if its relevant, but we are black and maybe she was in love with a black guy a long time ago. Because she was looking right at him when she spoke. Idk, shits weird.
I was with my father as he lay dying in the hospital. It was a long and emotionally exhausting process so we kids took turns sitting with him and holding his hand for when he would wake up. He was in and out of lucidity but just before he went he opened his eyes, gripped my hand hard, looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t like that guy in the black suit sitting over in the corner.” My blood ran cold and I quickly looked over my should and there was an empty chair there. I don’t know if he was remembering some incident from his past, hallucinating, or if he saw “someone” more sinister. I didn’t mention it to my siblings for years and even since then they don’t like to talk about it.
I was about five or six when my grandfather was on his deathbed. The last thing he did was put his hand on my shoulder and said, “No wonder you never liked my spicy food.” and then he passed about ten seconds later. We were all super confused. About three months later I almost died from suffocation after eating some salsa. At the hospital I was diagnosed with a capsaicin allergy (Spicy food). To this day it still creeps me out. No one knew I was allergic before then, and I didn’t show any signs either.
Less haunting and more just…sad because of how young he was and how he was unaware of his final moments.
“Mommy, why’re you crying?”