As a pastor, I’ve been invited to experience the final moments of several people’s lives. Each time I walk through the death process with someone, it causes me pause and deep reflection. It reminds me of my mortality and my absolute trust in the Lord for my life and breath. It reminds me that my days are numbered.
I’ve been called to homes minutes after a troubled father committed suicide, minutes after a woman died in her sleep, and minutes after a woman accidentally overdosed on drugs. I arrived at the hospital literally one minute after an older gentleman died after a long bout with cancer. In all these situations, I did not experience the final minutes of these precious lives. But, with a few people, I have experienced that moment when they take their final breath. What a privileged position I’m in to be invited in by family members to experience their loved one’s final moment on earth. It’s a sobering, spiritual, powerful experience. Some have gone quietly; some have not. But none have delivered profound final words so often seen in the movies. But just because I’ve not experienced this doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Recently, a user on social platform, Reddit, posed this question: “To the doctors nurses, police, paramedics etc. of Reddit. Did you ever hear a death bed confession and what was it? Did you feel like it brought relief to the person confessing?” More than 8,000 comments have been posted in response. None of them has been verified. User privacy is an important part of Reddit, but the community is also quick to police itself when fraud is suspected. Here are some of the fascinating experiences users shared in response to this question:
Mayaseye: “When I first started as a 911 dispatcher I had a call come in and all that the person said was ‘Tell them I’m sorry,’ and hung up. I knew right away what we were going to find when we got there. It was the worst feeling. I just felt so dirty that I was the last one to talk to this guy, and no matter how fast we sent help it didn’t matter it was just too late. So I guess he was confessing, but it just made me feel icky.”
Orange_Penguin: “This may not seem like much, but the last words my mom said to me before she died were ‘Baby, I’m scared.’ She wasn’t scared of anything – she was a paramedic for over 20 years and had practically seen it all. That was the most horrifying part about watching her die. In all the times she’d been forced to go to the hospital, I had NEVER heard her say that she was scared.”
Buddynacho: “My grandma went a little loopy before she went, but she left a voice mail for her best friend in the last days along the lines of ‘Maggie, it’s Deborah. I’m dying, and it’s a lot of fun! Call me back!’ ”
CopWithoutVest: “A call had come out of a shooting that had just occurred. It was in a neighboring division, but we were close so we decided to go. We were the first unit and there is a guy, shot right in the forehead walking back and forth. He is on his cell phone screaming and crying and asking his mother to please forgive him for everything he has done because he got shot and was going to die.” He posted later that he never found out whether the man died.
CommercialPilot: “My great-grandmother went to bed one evening and didn’t wake up for a number of days. Finally, 4 or 5 days later, she awoke, lifted her head, looked at her husband of 70 years marriage and said softly “I’ve loved you for 70 years now and I would do it all over again.” Then she looked at her daughter and said “Daughter” nodded her head, laid back down and died in her sleep shortly thereafter.”