Dying Words: Steve Jobs Wasn’t the Only One
Posted on 23 January 2012, 14:03
At the October 16 memorial service for Apple founder Steve Jobs, Mona Simpson, his sister, delivered a eulogy in which she told of her brother’s final words: “Oh Wow! Oh Wow! Oh Wow!” The initial reports did not include the exclamation points, but one might infer them.
While “believers” see Jobs’s dying words as some indication that Jobs was seeing through the veil separating the earth realm from a spiritual realm, the skeptics shrug it off as perhaps a reaction to pain or the ramblings of a dying man. However, such dying words are not unprecedented. Thomas Edison, the great inventor, is said to have uttered, “It’s very beautiful over there” just before taking his last breath. “Joy!” were the very last words of English author and philantropist Hannah More, who died in 1833. “Victory! Eternal Victory!” were the dying words of Eunice Cobb. “O glory! O glory! O glory!” were the parting words of Susan C. Kirland of Burr Oak, Michigan before she passed on April 3, 1864. “It is beautiful,” were the dying words of the famous English poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
In his 1926 book, Deathbed Visions, Sir William Barrett, a professor of physics at the Royal College of Science in Dublin, reported on a case told to him by his wife, an obstretic surgeon. A dying woman who had just given birth commented that the room was getting darker and darker. “Suddenly, she looked eagerly toward one part of the room, a radiant smile illuminating her whole countenance,” Lady (Dr.) Barrett recalled. “Oh, lovely, lovely,” the dying woman said. Lady Barrett asked her to what she was referring. “What I see,” the dying woman replied. “Lovely brightness, wonderful things.”
“Earth recedes – Heaven opens before me,” Dwight L. Moody told his sons minutes before he died. “I’m in the midst of glory!” When one son asked Moody if he had been dreaming, Moody replied, “No, this is no dream, Will. It is beautiful! It is like a trance. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here! God is calling me and I must go.”
May Wilcox of Marengo, Illinois died at the age of 21. Just before she gave up the ghost, she threw up her arms and exclaimed, “Oh! Do you hear the music?”
As 10-year-old Lillian Lee lay dying, she told her father that there were crowds of children waiting for her and were calling her by a new name, although she could not remember what it was. As she breathed her last, she whispered, “Yes, yes, I come, I come!”
In her book, They Walked Among Us, Louie Harris recalled the passing of her father. He whispered to his wife that it was time for him to leave and apologized for not being able to bid farewell to Ted, their son, who was serving in the British army in France. “Father was quiet for some time,” Harris wrote. “His eyes were closed. Then, quite unexpectedly, he sat up unaided, his eyes open, his face radiant. He stretched out his arms and joyfully exclaimed: ‘George! Austin!’ These were the names of his ‘dead’ brothers. A beautiful smile transformed his thin face. With a deep sigh of satisfaction he lay back on his pillow and passed peacefully to the spirit world.”
Just before Eleanor Herrick died of cancer in December, 1964, Arline Sexauer, her daughter, entered her hospital room. The patient in the bed next to Eleanor, told Arline that her mother had been talking to someone named Margaret all morning. Arline explained that Margaret was her mother’s sister who had died many years before. Just before Eleanor passed, she took her daughter’s hand and said, “Oh, Arline, it’s so strange here. I’m in a ‘never-never’ land. I’m halfway between two worlds. Ma and Pa are here and I can see them, but I can’t see you any more.”
Dr. W. T. O’Hara reported the case of a dying 10-year-old girl on a ship of which he was the medical officer. As he sat next to the girl, O’Hara sensed a presence in the room but was unable to see it. As he checked the girl’s pulse and determined that her heart was still beating, the room grew brighter and seemed to gather in waves of blue and white and gold over the child’s body. The girl looked up and murmured, “Oh, look! How beautiful!” at which time O’Hara saw a misty, luminous globe over her head. The girl then cried out, “Oh Mamma…I see…the way…and it is all bright and shining.” Then the light rose rapidly and disappeared at the ceiling, at which time the girl died. When the captain entered the cabin, he told O’Hara that he and four other officers, who came with him, had seen a ball of blue fire right over their heads in the smoking room. They observed it float to the door and turn toward the cabin occupied by O’Hara and the young girl.
Just this month, an Associated Press story by Tim Stonesifer told of a Hanover, Pennsylvania couple, Nancy and Richard Trimmer, who had died within 12 hours of each other after 61 years of marriage. Richard was in the hospital suffering from lung cancer when Nancy died in her sleep at home, at 12:25 a.m. Later that morning, family members went to the hospital to inform Richard of his wife’s passing. They noticed that the clock in his hospital room was stuck at 12:25. As one family member tried to give him ice with a spoon, Richard looked off toward the ceiling and whispered, “Pull me up.” He repeated the request, “Please pull me up.” after which there was a pause and he said, “Hold me tighter now,” a moment or so before he expired.
The skeptic would say that they were all hallucinating. That may be so, but a hallucination is simply something not detected by the five senses. It doesn’t mean it is not real.
In his 2010 book, Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms, David Kessler collected several dozen recent deathbed visions and utterances from various health-care workers, including physicians, nurses, and hospice volunteers. One social worker in hospice services reported that a patient named Maria who hadn’t said a word during the previous week suddenly became alert and began speaking in Czech, her native language. Maria’s daughters were present but didn’t understand what she was saying and beckoned their aunt, Maria’s sister. When Aunt Anna arrived, she explained that Maria was talking to people in their family who had alread died and was saying that she could also see them.
A doctor told of listening to his dying brother carry on a conversation with their deceased grandparents. “As a doctor, it’s very easy to dismiss this sort of thing until you see it firsthand,” he is quoted. “Could my brother’s vision have been a dream state? Was it a result of oxygen deprivation? A side effect of the medications? All were possible, but for my mother and me, none of those options felt right. It felt profound. Real. Neither one of us wanted to interfere, so we just observed.”
Author Kessler, himself a hospice volunteer, concludes the book with an interesting observation. “…I do know that the dying don’t say. ‘Here comes nothing. I now see nothing.’ And health-care professionals don’t report that the dying speak of entering a ‘nothingness.’ I’m going to believe the words of the dying over the beliefs and doubts of the living who haven’t lost a loved one or worked in a hospital or hospice setting.”
Michael Tymn’s book The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After we Die is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and all good online book stores.
Deathbed Visions by Sir William Barrett is also published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other good online book stores.
Next blog post: Feb. 3
This subject is so deeply interesting and the predictability with which so-called ‘professionals’ so readily voice their dismissive ignorance has become tiresome, old and dull - not to mention, disrespectful.
My grandmother was a registered nurse for 45 years and worked in a major hospital in Philly. Naturally, she witnessed a lot of death over those years.
She said that in many instances, where the person was conscious, however briefly, it looked as though they were physically seeing someone they once knew - someone they’d loved - or some beautiful scene opening up before them - she said their eyes would light up for a moment, as if in joyful amazement - and said it was just too real to dismiss as ‘the deranged rantings of the dying’.
Many, she said, would outstretch their arms, as if someone was reaching out to take their hand.
Although my grandmother had become a Jehovah’s Witness later in life (through family pressure to do so, not any desire to do so), she told me that she’d seen too much in her years as a nurse to close her mind to the possibility that religions (all of them) have got it all wrong.
I’m inclined to agree with her.
G, Mon 10 Aug, 22:26
Look for Gavril Barnutiu on Youtube and you will se some very amazing testimony of a person who was in heaven and hell.
Ariel, Thu 13 Mar, 01:40
Jen, thank you for sharing the NDE, I found the authors comment quite rude. Of course its not the same thing, its obvious. She was just sharing!
Jen, Tue 31 Dec, 16:45
Thank you for the comments. I am glad you are enjoying the book. I talked about reincarnation in the appendix of the book. That pretty much sums up my belief in reincarnation. I believe in reincarnation, but I just don’t think it plays out like most people who believe in it think it does. I believe it is beyond human comprehension.
Michael Tymn, Fri 17 Feb, 11:34
I am reading the book The Afterlife Revealed…it is wonderful and makes so much sense to me. It blends The Bible and the spiritual world together so well…like I said it just makes sense.
I am curious - what are your thoughts about reincarnation? Do you think we return to experience Earth again?
Please know this has been an incredible journey for me as I began with a Lutheran school education and have come a long way toward the expansion of my spiritual beliefs…
Diana, Fri 17 Feb, 02:32
Thank you for sharing that interesting story about your aunt. It does seem that the “higher self” sees what is soon to happen to the physical self, even though the consciousness does not comprehend. That seems to have been the case with some of the victims and survivors of the Titanic, as discussed in my recent book.
Michael Tymn, Thu 16 Feb, 23:27
5 days before I last saw my aunt alive and well I had a dream. In this dream she expressed her sadness at not seeing me anymore. She said “I’m going to miss our little chats” I asked her to explain. She said “Well I wont be here anymore” I asked why she said “Well I just wont be here anymore.” But I knew what she meant. I woke sobbing. Three days later I had another dream, this time it was of her funeral again waking up crying from the realness of the dream. I visited my aunt 2 days later and she complained of not feeling too great and just feeling fed up - so unlike her. I didn’t tell her of my dreams. Two days later she was taken to hospital after I discovered her in bed, with a burst gallbladder. She died 5 days later from blood poisoning. She was terrified of death but I have had further dreams of her sitting in a hospital bed having to explain that she died while she seemed confused about what had happened but nonetheless accepting of the fact but still wanting material things i.e. her favourite newspaper. Your book has helped make sense of what has perhaps happened to her in death and I feel very much she is alive today as she was when she was earthbound. She is just in another time and place and I will see her again. Thank you Michael this book will help many people even the sceptics of which I have been one despite having an intuitive sense within me over many things, I have always sought the logical explanation but now I am very open minded.
Lynne, Thu 16 Feb, 17:26
Thank you very much for those stories. They are very interesting and consistent with other deathbed stories.
Michael Tymn, Mon 13 Feb, 00:40
I have two first-hand incidents to report:
1. When I was in school - way back in the 50s- we had the first cancer death in our neighborhood.
The man had been suffering for nearly a month and all of us were praying for him. He himself had always been a devout believer in Mother Mary.
His family reported that, just before he passed, his face became radiant and he said that he he could see mother Mary come t take him home.
2. My own mother died at 90 and she was ailing for many months before, with her mind wandering on many occasions.
But on this one instance, she claimed to have seen her old friend just outside her window. my Mum was quite upset that her friend had not come in to see her.
This lady had also been ill for a while - but my Mum had not not known that. That evening we heard that the friend had passed at the very time my Mum saw her at the window!
N.B. This lady also lived in the same building as the man who had the death-bed vision - though both the cases happened over 50 years apart
WALTER, Tue 7 Feb, 18:32
I forgot to include the dying words of Joan of Arc as she perished at the stake: “My voices have not deceived me! Jesus, Jesus!”
Michael Tymn, Thu 2 Feb, 11:40
Thanks for sharing, Michael! Very inspirational…
Lynda Lee Macken, Sun 29 Jan, 02:06
Great Stuff Michael!
Carla Wills-Brandon, Sat 28 Jan, 10:17
About 8 years ago, my mother was told she needed a quad by-pass, she was on the verge of a heart-attack. The next Sunday, at church, I went up front and asked/prayed that 1 - my mother would not die, and 2 - that “the Lord would be in this” experience. Here is how my prayer was answered…
Marty, Fri 27 Jan, 21:03
My mother’s surgery went fine, but that night her heart stopped for a period of time (we later learned). The next morning she said, “I am not sure what happened here last night, and I am not sure I can tell anyone what I went through, but I know I have to tell YOU!” She did not know I had prayed I need to know “the Lord is in this”.
She said she went from blackness to a open, large opening, where she looked in to an unbelievably brilliant scene - people’s faces, 20-30 feet away, all looking at her, and in the middle was a figure, with a Mona Lisa smile, looking directly at her, Who knew her, and loved her. My mother said, “This is the God I’ve been talking to since I was a little girl…Jesus.” This is how Jesus answered my prayer. My mother can hardly wait to go back to the place she knows is ready to welcome her, to her Lord, who knows and loves her.
Thank you for your comment, but these are “dying words,” not “near-death experiences.” However, the research clearly indicates that not everyone who has a near-fatal accident has a near-death experience, or at least the NDE is not remembered by many. In fact, I believe the research suggests that many more people don’t have them than do.
Michael Tymn, Fri 27 Jan, 14:38
I think all your vital signs must stop before you experience an NDE. I had a near fatal accident but bever esperienced an NDE.
Herman King, Fri 27 Jan, 06:18
It seems to me in much of the literature on death and dying, the skeptics are always saying’nay’ no
paul Biscop, Wed 25 Jan, 07:19
matter what the experience of those who witness or go through the experience themselves. Perhaps we should just say ‘nay’ to them and empty out the water bin!
I was already aware of these things, but your post has inspired and comforted me anew, Mike.
Now what we need to do is look at our present, temporal lives and remind ourselves to say, “Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow!”
Elene Gusch, Wed 25 Jan, 01:05
I don’t think we have to know what Steve Jobs saw just before dying to know that his “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow” was a good thing. It was his way of “jumping off a cliff” without fighting it. Would that we all could be so open when our time comes.
coyd, Tue 24 Jan, 02:07
Thanks for mentioning Kessler’s book. It’s one of the best on the subject. Any hospice worker (myself included) will verify that dying people have experiences like this all the time. It’s more the rule than the exception, so as far as I’m concerned, the skeptics can go take a hike.
Terri Daniel, Tue 24 Jan, 01:11
Good list, Michael. This can be very persuasive to those who witness it. I recall reading a book by a British historian and sceptic, Ian Wilson (The Afterdeath Experience, I think) in which he debunks survival evidence such as physical mediumship, etc, but then goes on to describe being at the deathbed of a friend, who in the moments before dying spoke of seeing scenes of glory. I was impressed by the effect it had on Wilson. I think he felt it was right to be dismissive of ‘spiritualism’, but could allow himself to affected by this.
Robert McLuhan, Tue 24 Jan, 00:48
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