Last Words and Tombstones

Like it or not, death is an event in every person’s life.  We all face that inevitable day when our bodies can no longer go on.  Some die far too early.  Others wish it would come sooner.

My dad was a coroner.  He saw death every day during his time in office. My mother was a nurse in a VA hospital and often worked the terminal ward.  Both of my parents survived serious illness when they were young. They saw death as the door we all walk through to Jesus.  Their faith gave them great peace when their day came – far too early, in my opinion. My father was 71, my mother died five years later at 74.

Dad and Mom took death seriously, but laughed heartily at their chosen resting place in Brookings, Oregon.  Deadwood Road leads to a Dead End and the gates to the cemetery.  They thought that was hilarious.  Every time I visit that site, I forget how each died painfully of cancer.  I remember their laughter.

Dying is scary. How long will it take?  Will it hurt?  Will I retain my mental capacities?  But death itself?  Death holds no power over those who are in Christ Jesus.  Death, oh, where is thy sting? But there are those precious last moments.

Famous last words can give insights into the lives of people.

“All my possessions for a moment of time.”  Queen Elizabeth I

“I will hear in heaven.”  Ludwig van Beethoven

“Drink to me.”  Pablo Picasso

“I see black light.”  Victor Hugo

“Lord, help my poor soul.” Edgar Allen Poe

Even facing death, some retain their sense of humor.  When successful playwright Wilson Mizner was dying, a priest came.  “I’m sure you want to talk to me.”  Mizner’s response?  “Why should I talk to you?  I’ve been talking to your boss.”

W.C. Fields was asked why he was reading a Bible on his deathbed. “I’m looking for loopholes.”

Others put thought into their epitaphs:

I told you I was sick.

There goes the neighborhood.

I made some good deals and I made some bad deals. I really went into the hole on this one.

Here lies an atheist, all dressed up and nowhere to go.


I wasn’t with my dad or mom when each died, but I know what they would have said to me.  “I love you.  I’ll see you soon.”