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What People Say Before They Die (theatlantic.com)
243 points by lermontov 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 120 comments

My father's last word was "Wow!". He was at the end stage of esophageal cancer at the age of 46. He fought until about a week before his passing and made the decision that he did all he could and try to go with some grace. By the point the pain was constant and unbearable, even oxycontin wasn't getting the job done. As a family, we said our goodbyes, and said everything that needed to be said.

Over the course of the next few days, people from his life came from near and far to visit him in the hospital. After about 5 days, the flow petered out. The night he passed, he was in and out of lucidity, and in a clear moment we talked about all of the people that came to see him. He was clearly impressed and humble. At the end of the conversation, he exclaimed "Wow!" in a voice that was barely a whisper and then closed his eyes. Several hours later, hid body finally succumbed to the cancer and he exhaled his last breath.

My father had the same condition, died at 51, in a bed in the living room. Because this type of cancer has a near 100% mortality rate, after he was diagnosed, his next birthday party was held in an convention hall and I showed up late because of work, amazed at a turnout of hundreds of people that I was floored; it was standing room only.

The final decline took two weeks, and during that time so many people came to visit that it was almost the opposite of 'Wow', he was trying to stay alive to not disappoint. One morning when we awoke he had slipped into coma but it was later clear to me he was still listening. He died a few feet away from me while I did evening dishes and his wife was saying to him "It's okay, you don't have to hang on anymore." And so he left.

Thanks for sharing your story - I'm very sorry for your loss.

>"[his] body finally succumbed to the cancer"

I've heard usually at that point (when the patient is ready) they just up the painkiller dose to the point it stops their breathing or heart.


This is an insensitive comment in this context.

I read it somewhere, when Steve Jobs died he said “oh wow, oh wow, oh wow”.

DMT is real.

what do think he meant by that?

My interpretation was that he was expressing amazement at the number of people that came to see him. Friends, relatives, co-workers from 15+ years ago, etc. It was the topic we were discussing at that moment.

Of course, it may have been something else, too.

>>Of course, it may have been something else, too.

Is it possible that the brain prepares us for a peaceful ending? Showing paradise or whatever we like as we breath one last time?

That would be comforting, but I can think of no evolutionary purpose for such a mechanism to emerge...

In the event of a body's catastrophic system failure (i.e. serious injury / dying) the brain spikes the endorphin levels since pain no longer serves a useful purpose: the damage is done but it does serve a useful purpose to reduce the pain levels to allow us to function at a higher level than writhing on the ground in agony so that in some circumstances we might live to see another day.

Think of it this way: a bear just ripped/slashed/whatever your arm off... which is more useful: 'arrgggghhh!' or for the brain to pump out endorphins so that you at least concentrate and have a chance of fighting back or running/limping away or hiding? I doubt the brain differentiates between serious injury and dying, it's just wired at a certain point to try to minimize the pain. That would seem to be a very useful evolutionary purpose.

And even if it did differentiate between serious injury and dying, considering mankind’s history of warfare, being able to continue to perform while mortally wounded is definitely beneficial to the survival of the clan.

The carrot to those still living of a beautiful afterlife and the mythos surrounding that seems incredibly useful evolutionarily.

That said, it could also just be an implementation quirk. There’s some interesting work out there on what exactly happens in the brain during the moments surrounding death, and it relates in an interesting way to the neural correlates of consciousness.

Also related to the state of being conscious without attentional content.

My take: Fear and stress are useful in some circumstances, but should not be increased in others. Populations that are not afraid of death could then be healthier, since they focus their struggles on the current pressing issues instead of worrying about a matter which will never be resolved.

Personally, I am christian, and my faith is a huge source of relief when thinking about big questions and personal crisis.

This article deserves its own HN thread. Everyone should read it; it is not a problem domain amenable to a technical fix. At some point, virtually all US HN readers will personally face implementing an assisted suicide decision. My own experience is every bit as awful as depicted in the article.

Be aware that many painkillers at end of life are administered by infusion pump. These control the maximum rate and frequency over time, and changes to the parameters are under a PIN code. Many such pumps also log their activity. You will have to look for a way to bypass these safeties, and not make it apparent to an external observer you extracted more medication than allotted in a given time period. I won’t spell out how to do that, because US policy and case law over assisted suicide must be changed before I may safely do so.

My mother-in-law died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease).

When she passed, my wife, her sister and her husband, and my mother-in-law's ex-husband were with her. I was stroking her hair because I wanted the last thing she felt to be a human touch.

At one moment, she said quite clearly, "I'm ready to get on the train". Not a second or two later, we heard the train whistle (Palo Alto) as it passed the stop near her home. And then she stopped breathing.

Coincidence, of course, but nonetheless lovely.

"Don't cry for me, for I go where music is born."

Who: Johann Sebastian Bach, Baroque composer.

Now that is how you go out in style.

To put in context

"All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the recreation of the soul."

Bach believed that all music, secular as well as sacred, had to be inspired by god or be written for his glory. Puts his last words into context :)

His family suffered badly after he died. His wife and mother of his children died on the street begging for money. Really sullied my connection to his music.

That was humanity's doing, not his music.

I’ve told myself that too but it’s small comfort. Really only highlights for me that humanity owes itself better than it provides.

Why does that change your connection to his music?

Hard to explain fully. I love Bach’s music, of course. Anytime I see the word “Bach” in a context outside music there’s that little disappointment that I’m not hearing his music. His last wife was 15-16 years younger than him. Apparently she was a singer herself. But she must have, instead, devoted her life to him and their children. After he died (see below), she and their daughters were left, it sounds like, with relatively nothing. So it’s twofold. For having contributed to the world what he did, Bach’s music is highly valuable. But in his time it sounds like he didn’t receive much wealth. Further, before I read about his life I figured his life must have been the kind to establish his family in a more stable place.

From Wikipedia’s entry about his last wife: “After Bach's death in 1750, his sons came into conflict and moved on in separate directions, going to live with other family members. While Bach did everything to educate his sons, his daughters never went to school.[4] Anna Magdalena was left alone, with no financial support from family members, to care for herself and her two youngest daughters, plus her stepdaughter from Bach's first marriage.[4][6] Anna Magdalena became increasingly dependent upon charity and handouts from the city council, ultimately relying on public begging to survive. Probably her only child or stepchild who provided any support to her was her stepson Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, whose letters show he provided regular financial assistance.[7] She died on the street on February 27, 1760, with no money at all,[4] and was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave at Leipzig's Johanniskirche [de] (St. John's Church). The church was destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II.”

It’s all a stark contradiction to Bach’s music.

Weird to have your connection to his music sullied by something entirely outside of his control. (Since he was, you know, dead.)

He died at 65 leaving a much younger wife with several underage children without much income or wealth. Unless he believed he was immortal, their lot was not entirely outside his control.

That's what I believe too.

It's totally not what I believe, but that doesn't stop him from being probably my favourite artist of all time. :).

Johann Sebastian Bach most probably never said these words.

Of course, there is no absolute recording of the death of Bach, so no certitude. The witnesses were few, and the Cantor was not very famous at this time, so there was no reason for anyone to produce a detailed account of the episode. Even a single account by a family member would not prove much. So when JS Bach's popularity started to grew, a century later, there was room for imagination. There are many apocryphal texts around Bach, including the Little Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach… written in the 1920s.

Jesus of Nazareth's final quote shows a similar situation. He became much more famous after his death, and most of the texts we have about him were written decades later. Yet the Gospel all describe the scene of his death. So what were his last words? It depends on the Gospel. There are 3 very different accounts, with only Mark and Matthew agreeing.

I became curious about your last paragraph as I’d always heard that Jesus’ last words were, “it is finished.” This answer on StackExchange seems like a good summary of the issue, and concludes that “it is finished” are the last words and the other accounts don’t record everything Jesus said, or claim to. Is this new information or are you referring to research that wasn’t factored into the SE answer? Regardless, your main point about last words and Bach’s in particular makes sense, especially given we are in an age where we care a lot about last words and seem to want to apply that standard to other ages.


I remember my Grandpa's last words on his deathbed: "Well, I'll see you'all later."

The last thing I gave my Grandpa was a Get Well Soon card, at his funeral.

/everyone had a good laugh, he would have loved it.

I've had the same thought from time to time. I stopped expressing them to my parents; they don't share the points of view as your family, you, and myself appears to.

Last thing my grandpa said to me was, "I'll see you soon."

It's actually comforting.

I'll never forget my grandfather's last words (word really). Seconds before he passed, he mustered up enough energy to call out "NO" quite loudly. Then he was gone. I still find his last expression somewhat haunting, although I suspect that the whole "dying" thing hadn't become real to him until that very last moment when he knew it was inevitable.

I saw my grandpa the night before he passed. I asked him if he wanted my wife and I to stay or go and let him sleep. His last words to me were "Just let me sleep".

Classic granpa move.

"On a winter morning in 1360, Zen master Kozan Ichikyo gathered together his pupils. Kozan, 77, told them that, upon his death, they should bury his body, perform no ceremony and hold no services in his memory. Sitting in the traditional Zen posture, he then wrote the following:

Empty-handed I entered the world Barefoot I leave it. My coming, my going — Two simple happenings That got entangled.

After he finished, Kozan gently put down his brush, and then died. He was still sitting upright.

" https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2016/07/02/books/black-...

Here we are, Western mortals worrying about the last spoken word, while the Himalayan yogis exit their body consciously...

I'm a little bit different - I don't want to prepare for death. I want to die at my desk, completely unconscious of, unready for and ultimately, unburdened by my own mortality. There's nothing you can do about it anyways, and waiting to die is boring and miserable. I don't want to give death any respect, I want to be inconvenienced by it, interrupted by it.

I agree, or as Atticus put it ( or so it goes)

“I hope to arrive to my death, late, in love, and a little drunk”

Sadly, you are unlikely to get much choice in the matter.

What I'm saying is that I'm against the alternative which is to prepare for death like it's this big day or something.

Yes! I like the way you think.

I still think "Fuck that alligator" is my favorite:


BuzzFeed later published a more detailed and sympathetic account of this tragedy: https://www.buzzfeed.com/amphtml/golianopoulos/fuck-that-gat...

It really steams me that they killed the gator. The gator didn't do anything wrong, and considering that it was the first lethal gator attack in the state in two centuries, the gator almost certainly did not represent a significant hazard to any other people, almost all of whom would be more respectful of it. Suggesting that there was something wrong with the gator, like it had a moral deficiency or something, is just absurd.

The justification I've often heard has nothing to do with morality or vengeance. It's simply that animals that have killed humans tend to do it again because they now associate humans with prey. I don't know how accurate this is but it's definitely the rationale used for killing such animals.

I can see how easy would it be to misinterpret “No swimming alligators”.

Good point about the ambiguous language. Reminds me of: https://www.reddit.com/r/dontdeadopeninside/

Though in this case people had tried to convince the victim not to swim, so it wasn't like he misread the sign.

interestingly, Texas keeps a record of the last statements made by death row inmates uttered before execution. I'm not sure if other states do this.


Those were his words.

These were his deeds : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosendo_Rodriguez

Thanks for sharing this. It really really humanizes the people behind the crime.

So uncomfortable to read. We all like to pretend that death's not a thing until it becomes unavoidable. I think the mentality of a human being is built to be deeply anxious of the possibility of changes in circumstance, yet adaptable when possibilities become certainty. Everyone I know who has faced life-altering circumstances eventually adopts a new life. I suppose those terminal are the same. A lot of shit probably just doesn't matter anymore, because it can't.

My Mom was in hospice care for about the last year of her life. She was religious and I am not, I am an Atheist. We talked about that toward the end. We came up with a very unique "pass phrase" and she agreed that if she got "up there" she would try to get it to me. That was 10 years ago, still nothing.

But I thought it was interesting that part of the way I think she dealt with it was writing her Eulogy. She had been the organist at her church for many years until she became too ill to continue. She had a friendly little rivalry with her much younger replacement playing little practical jokes on her like leaving a funny cartoon in the hymn book to "throw her off timing", silly fun things like that.

My Mom had been placing this idea with the church goers for some time, claiming that our family had Native American Heritage (we do not).

When I attended her funeral, many members of the church mentioned this and my sister and I just assumed maybe she was confused towards the end. But she was not confused at all. It was all part of an elaborate, one last practical joke from the grave.

She had convinced the church to allow the organist to perform a "Native American Chant" in her honor. The Chant was "O-what-ajerkiam" over and over but in native sounding phonology she had devised. She had even provided the poor unsuspecting organist an "official native American drum". (this whole thing shamelessly stolen from Mel Brooks). The ruse went off perfectly and my sister and I were cracking up, Mel Brooks was her favorite.

I hope I have a great sense of humor like my Mom at the end like that. It was her completely. And everyone got a huge kick out of it afterwards including the organist who was in tears of laughter after she realized she had been had one last time.

> We came up with a very unique "pass phrase" and she agreed that if she got "up there" she would try to get it to me.

"Mom send back Satoshi's private key."

Genuinely curious: if sometime in the past 10 years you had seen or heard or read this unique phrase, what would you have done?

Clap, clap, clap. That is absolutely wonderful.

There is a scriptural basis for believing that the proposed Christian afterlife does not begin upon death, but after the second coming.

Oweh t'zherkiam!

Wow. Well played, Mom.

>We came up with a very unique "pass phrase" and she agreed that if she got "up there" she would try to get it to me

This sort of thing is addressed in the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16. An excerpt:

"'Then I beg you, father,' he [a rich man in hell] said, 'send Lazarus [a beggar in heaven] to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them so they will not also end up in this place of torment.'

But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let your brothers listen to them.'

'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone is sent to them from the dead, they will repent.'

Then Abraham said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'" (Luke 16:27-31)

> This sort of thing is addressed in the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16

IMO that passage only addresses it in so far as to make up an excuse to explain the silence. If even a modest amount of the supernatural claims in the Christian Bible are true then at least one of them should be reliably repeatable. And despite years wasted looking I'm not convinced.

>at least one of them should be reliably repeatable

The entire idea is that a conscious mind is controlling things. The only truly repeatable aspect of a conscious being is their reflexes, and you can't hammer God in the shins. There are no predictions that you can draw from theism, so it can't be falsified or supported. The idea that you should look for ideas that yield predictions, although it is obvious to us now, took thousands of years to develop.

> There are no predictions that you can draw from theism, so it can't be falsified or supported.

Which eliminates any significant benefit besides some placebo effect. Therefore I won't be wasting another second fearing unprovable claims about eternal .

This was the scariest decision I ever made to be honest.

>If even a modest amount of the supernatural claims in the Christian Bible are true then at least one of them should be reliably repeatable

If it were reliably repeatable, it wouldn't be supernatural. That's tautological.

OK, just keep doing different miracles each time. Keep it fresh.

What you're getting at is actually a profound paradox in philosophy of science: the statement "no miracles occur" is itself unfalsifiable, and thus (at least in the Popperian sense) not scientific. It's unfalsifiable because to repeatably falsify it would be tantamount to repeatably producing miracles!

Here's an interesting paper on the subject: https://philpapers.org/archive/FROTNA-2.doc (Greg Frost-Arnold, 2010, "The No‐Miracles Argument for Realism: Inference to an Unacceptable Explanation", Philosophy of Science 77(1))

What an incredible display of navel gazing (the paper you link). I'm well aware that modern science was born from philosophy, but much of what is left in the realm of philosophy seems to me so incredibly useless.

Logic, reason, critical thinking, ethics, these are all valuable things. But anti-realism? I challenge anyone to tell me something useful that has come from the study of "anti-realism".

Not that everything has to be useful. Far be it from me to try to control anyone's hobby. But I, for one, don't want any of my tax dollars to go toward supporting that fruitless pasttime.

It's too early to expect real-world applications of anti-realism. Instead I would redirect your attention to a similar pattern in the foundations of mathematics.

Mathematical foundations were once very shaky, but real-world mathematicians didn't care in practice. Bertrand Russell showed that an early mathematical foundation attempt was inconsistent. At the time, to a working mathematician, this would have been about as airy-fairy as anti-realism seems to us today. A mathematician back then could well and rightly have said: "Proofs, equations, solutions, these are valuable things. But Russell's paradox? I challenge anyone to tell me something useful that has come from the study of Russell's paradox." Indeed, the paradox was actually known to Zermelo before Russell, and Zermelo didn't consider it important enough to make a fuss about!

Now in hindsight, we know that foundational work DID pay off in practical ways. It was a crucial step toward the development of, for example, automated proof verification software like COQ, which has extremely important real-world applications and whose importance will only grow in the future.

Here's my speculation: things like anti-realism are equivalent to Russell's Paradoxes which seem like navel-gazing today. In a hundred years' time, they might have proven to be a crucial step toward formal science verification software. Just like fixing mathematical foundations was a crucial step toward formal mathematical verification software.

> If it were reliably repeatable, it wouldn't be supernatural. That's tautological.

Then let me rephrase, If even a modest amount of the unusual claims in the Bible are true then at least one of them should be reliably repeatable.

What I get is that, at some point, Yahweh (perhaps aka El, consort of Asherah) got tired of believer support, and declared "trust me or burn".

Maybe three thousand years ago, priests invoked aspects of Yahweh in the usual way. Burning incense and lamb's blood in charcoal braziers, chanting, wards for protection, and so on. If you were pure, he'd smite your enemies. If not, your people would suffer.

It's telling just how anthropomorphic every concept of god is, in all of known history. The Christian bible especially so, telling the story of a grumpy and largely ineffectual narcissist with lots of really weird fears and fetishes.

What you’re referring to as “The Christian bible” is roughly 77% the Hebrew Bible (referred to as “the Old Testament” by Christians). There are a lot of stories in the Hebrew Bible about The Lord “choosing” one people and bringing about the destruction of another. It sounds brutal and unjust (which, to me, are intriguing qualities to attribute to God—as opposed to a simplistic, purely benevolent God that a child might believe in) but the stories themselves are wonderfully interesting (e.g. Exodus).

As someone who read the Bible as an atheist, I strongly believe that faith is not required to appreciate, and even be guided by, the Bible. Much in the same way one does not need to believe in orcs to appreciate and learn from Lord of the Rings.

Matthew Stover is just about my favorite fantasy writer. He's arguably best known for the Star Wars prequel novels. But in his second novel, Jericho Dawn, his heroes go up against Yahweh, in defending the Canaanites against the Maccabees.

He characterizes Yahweh as fundamentally unknowable. Too complex, multidimensional, etc, etc. The whole beyond good and evil thing. That's not at all an unusual perspective. But what is unusual is his argument that how Yahweh shows up is determined by what his believers expect him to be.

His Caine series explores similar ideas. But in a far more complex plot. And with much better writing.

Well, it's like reverse anthropomorphism, or whatever you'd call it. We were created in god's image, so most of the stories go, so of course god is anthropo

I have the power to create an entire universe exactly as I want it, so I made one with many humans that worship fictional Gods, which makes me jealous. Then I'm going to fill it up with delicious shellfish and tell them not to eat it.

Reverse anthropomorphism—sounds okay until you realise that even we humans recognise how utterly rubbish we are at most things and strive to be better than our true selves. Our puny minds have recognised countless limitations of our humanity and we struggle to barely rise above them. Whereas these proposed gods suffer all the same pathetic failings while declaring themselves perfect.

Before my mother died (from lung cancer), she was just extremely anxious and miserable. Don't expect some kind of revelation or great thought about the meaning of life when people die. It's just horrible for everybody involved.

My grandfather was saying "help!" through an oxygen mask on his face for several days before he died. I didn't know how to respond because there wasn't anything we could do. He struggled like this, in pain, but at the very end he had an expression of complete joy and peace that was really moving to me. I was very close with my grandfather and felt I could understand what he was feeling without any words. My interpretation is that he experienced some type of complete acceptance of death and/or awareness of something beyond death. It was really beautiful and comforting to see, especially after watching him struggle for days prior to this.

For those that want a list, Wikiquote has a page of "last words" [1].

[1] https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Last_words

"Alex's death on 6 September 2007, at age 31, came as a surprise, as the average life span for a grey parrot in captivity is 45 years. His last words ("You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you") were the same words that he would say every night when Pepperberg left the lab."

"The name Alex was an acronym for avian language experiment, or avian learning experiment."


"Thomas Jefferson survives."

Narrator: "He didn't."

Before Einstein died he called his live-in nurse over to hear his last words. Unfortunately she didn't speak German. So we don't know if he uttered a breakthrough physics formula or just complimented her on a nice set of cans.

Anyway, fascinating article even though we all seem to want to talk about famous last words instead.

> Zagraj w Mozarta na moją pamiątkę, a ja cię usłyszę.

— Frederic Chopin

This one is my favourite.

Translation: Play Mozart in memory of me—and I will hear you.

Mine might just be "Play Chopin in memory of me".

Ironically those were Mozart's last words.

The book is actually "Words at the Threshhold", not "on" the threshhold... https://www.amazon.com/Words-Threshold-What-Nearing-Death/dp...

not sure this is relevant but my grandmother's last words to me...

she was the always happy type of person. super socialite knows everyone and everyone loves her always a kind word for everyone.

The last time I saw her was the only time I ever heard her have a negative attitude about anything.

She said "getting old sucks!"

William S. Burroughs: "Hurry up, please. It's time."

And OK, those weren't his last words. They were the last words in his last book, The Western Lands. Maybe they were more about being ready for death.

His final journal entries were published as Last Words: The Final Journals. My favorite:

> Here I sit with my three old cats, getting closer to eternity all the time, on a twine chair—(Van Gogh) and me too—and it gets very depressing. What can I do? I had high hopes. We all did. Remember just outside the Tangier Consulate: “Have you met the Skipper yet?” Later I did. And now no skipping, no transport anywhere, except to a cut-rate mortuary. Where were you when I wasn’t there? “Hound of Hell!!” screamed the Pop Star, and kicked the fink dog in the nuts. “Only decent thing I done.” “Forget the whole thing. I have.” Great gasp at this point. How much time? have I left? Not much it seems.”

Thanks. And yes, Burroughs didn't bother much with attribution.


The section about his death is surprising. I was an atheist at the time I first encountered the story.

What made you change your mind?

When I was a child, my family and I drove from Florida to New York to say goodbye to my dying grandfather, wasting away from cancer. Ours was the only group now already in New York. He was unconscious for the first 24 hours we were there.

The day after we got there, he woke up. He wasn’t able to see, and he asked my grandmother, “is everyone here, Mother?”

“Yes, George, they are.”

“So I can go now?”

Through tears, she said, “yes, you can go now.”

He took one more breath.

cancer/bleeding out/religious martyr Grandma "I can feel his warm light on my body!"

cancer/coma Grandpa "I am sorry for all the things I did (as a Nazi)we where just fighting for our rights and lives."

cancer/coma Grandpa 2 "Y'all talk to much." joking

cancer/coma Cousin 1 "I fought as long as I can don't cry it's all cool"

sleeping pills/instant Cousin 2 "Fuck this world and fuck you're gods" heard over the internet

old age 102/stopped breathing Great grandma "(I have seen a lot of stuff) I'll tell you more tomorrow right now I'm tired."

"I drank what?" — Socrates

"What happens after I kick this bucket?"

Or maybe he saw the truth about God. Steve Jobs said "oh wow, oh wow, oh wow" too. Could be one for each, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18943481 and marked it off-topic.

Or maybe one for each, Zeus, Poseidon, Hades.

Well.. it's either/or. Both can't be true.

Zeus, Poseidon and Hades are siblings. Of course both could be true.

Wasn't Steve Jobs a Zen Buddhist?

Clearly a reference to the 3 jewels of Buddhism then.

That's... grasping at straws.

“ hold my beer and watch this”

I believe those are known as "famous last words"

I stand corrected!

HN doesn't like jokes. Too Reddit-like.

I think the bar's just higher.

No, that's not it.

Not true for everyone. If it's good I'm game.


I like how this article and research de-romanticizes dying words.

There is nothing romantic about it, just incoherence that can only sometimes be applied out of context to conform to a blissful end.

That just depends on your definition of romantic. The idea of a whole life, the entirety of existence available to a consciousness being made to meet cosmic insignificance, is itself romantic and tragic. The words themselves have the capability to show any number of things, ranging from their desire to summarize their own life, to a banal statement that they couldn't possibly know was their last, to a display of terror or resistance, or a list of regrets, or a divulgence of soon-to-be-consequence-free dark secrets, or a last minute change to their will. It doesn't take some wishful thinking to associate meaning or interest to it, it's inherently compelling and drama-prone.

I’m curious if you’ve ever sat with a dying person.

Yes, I have

So logically the next thing you have to do is to question whether I’ve sat with enough and kept a spreadsheet to elevate my experience away from an anecdotal outlier

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