Our lives are filled with words and exchanges of all types — banal, trivial, meaningful, sincere, clever, etc. — yet the weight given to last words often outclasses anything uttered before.
It’s a truth stretching back centuries, one even Shakespeare touched upon, writing in "Richard II," “O, but they say the tongues of dying men enforce attention like deep harmony.”
We can’t help but place special meaning on last words. Sociologists believe this fascination stems from our need for reassurances about death, that it is more than just an end. Last words can signify a legacy left behind.
Here’s a list of memorable last words that might serve as some inspiration.
The last Queen of France before the French Revolution, Antoinette was executed on October 16, 1793, for the crime of high treason. Her widely recorded last words — “Excuse me, sir. I did not do it on purpose.” — were said to her executioner after she accidentally stepped on his foot on her way to the guillotine. She is better known for the phrase, “Let them eat cake,” but there is no conclusive evidence she ever said those words.
Following over a year of severe health issues, Marx, who is widely known for his communist theories, passed away on March 14, 1883. His last words were shouted irritably to his housekeeper who, expecting his passing, had inquired if he had any last words to share.
At the age of 46, Wilde passed away from meningitis on November 30, 1900, at the Hôtel d'Alsace in Paris. While he was always one for wit, there is some skepticism surrounding his last words. A few sources claim that while Wilde did voice his disdain for the wallpaper in question, it was a point raised in the weeks leading to his death when he was bedridden, rather than right before his passing. Either way, it must have been quite an offensive wallpaper.
Before passing away on July 13, 1954, Kahlo penned these words in her diary. Kahlo, an artist who grew up during the Mexican Revolution, lived a passionate and tumultuous life, reflected in her final words.
Early morning on August 16, 1977, Presley voiced these words to his fiancée, Ginger Alden. “Okay, but don’t fall asleep,” is what Alden sleepily said in response. Later, when she woke at 2 p.m., she found him on the bathroom floor — gone, from a toxic reaction to codeine pills. His last words recorded in public, however, were at a press conference where he said, “I hope I haven’t bored you.” One would never accuse The King of causing boredom, even in death.