Last words are your last opportunity to say something memorable, to get a laugh or just to show off how tough you are. In many cases they’re what you’re going to be remembered for, and at the very least you hope that they will be memorable or in some way interesting.
Obviously it’s not always easy to come up with something amusing, witty or inspiring to say when you’re literally on death’s door. You’re probably going to be a little too focussed on just trying to stay alive to think of anything clever – and that’s assuming that you even know that your time is coming near.
While this is a persisting problem though, there are certainly things you can do to improve your chances of getting a satisfactory last word. One option is to be constantly inspiring and witty. Another option is to talk less – thus improving the overall quality of your spoken content. Another easier option is to read the following examples of great and famous last words and then hope that they spring to mind again when you’re about to pass away…
Oscar Wilde was well-known for his witticisms in life, so it’s only fitting that he should share one more with us before he die. His choice of words were:
‘My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.’
We all hope that when our time comes we’ll have the nerve to say something cool, and we could all do a lot worse than to emulate Che Guevara whose last words sound like something Clint Eastwood might say:
‘Shot, coward, you are only going to kill a man!’
Not all of us are great at coming up with great last-words on short notice, so another option is always to follow in the footsteps of revolutionary Emiliano Zapata and attempt to outsource the process. His last words were ‘don’t let me die like this, say I said something’. Nice try!
L. Frank Baum
Quoting your own works is a popular way to come up with last words, which is precisely what the author of The Wizard of Oz did before he died.
‘Now I can cross the shifting sands…’
In the story, the Shifting Sands are impassable deserts surrounding the Land of Oz. This was pretty meta before post-modernism was in vogue…
Some people just have to have the last laugh, and for those who are so inclined the death bed provides a particularly unique opportunity. This seems to be the way that Groucho Marx saw it, whose last words were ‘Die my dear? Why that’s the last thing I’ll do!’
Traveller and writer Marco Polo saw fit to leave the world with a ‘teaser’, uttering ‘I have not told half of what I saw’ as the last words before he died.
Karl Marx is the famous founder of Marxism – the philosophical underpinnings for communism. When his housekeeper asked if he had any final words as he lay dying his response was:
‘Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough!’
Ironically these are some of the coolest last words ever…
Giles Corey would not constitute a famous personality were it not for his last words – how’s that for epic irony? Giles was a farmer who refused to plead guilty when accused of being a witch and who was subjected to the cruel torture of being crushed under heavy boulders. His persecutors kept adding weight, slowly crushing the life out of him, but with his last breaths he uttered:
How’s that for inspiration next time you’re down the gym?
Quick Tip: If you can’t think of a last word, you can always come up with something for your gravestone or urn if you’re going for a cremation.