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Top 10 Fascinating Deathbed Moments

by Mike Lawrence
fact checked by Jamie Frater

How to spend your last moments is a decision we all have to make eventually. The time in which we approach the threshold of the unknowable is our last chance to speak words we always wanted to say, right old wrongs, or use our dying breaths to reveal long-hidden secrets. Many leave this world in quiet reflection, but some go out in grand style.

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10 A Daughter’s Deathbed Confession of Incest

After Ashraf’s Khan’s daughter got married, she had three children. The children had been born with a number of ailments, including the inability to feel pain, but her husband assumed that they were simply the victims of a genetic disease. Then, on her deathbed, his wife confessed that he was not their father at all. Her own father had impregnated her all three times, and DNA tests soon confirmed the unbelievable story.

Her husband did not go to the police immediately because he wanted to keep acting as the children’s father despite not being related to them. Ashraf Khan was also out of the country in Pakistan, and only returned four years later, when he was arrested for incest. The maximum sentence for incest in the UK, where the children lived, was two years. Three counts means that Khan will serve six years in prison despite being 81 and in poor health. Despite the life-changing news, the children said they have even more respect for the man they still call “father.”[1]

9 Edward VIII Pleads for His Unfaithful Wife’s Return

King Edward VIII, against the wishes of his family, abdicated his throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who had been divorced twice already. Simpson, despite being engaged to Edward VIII, was in love with a man named Herman Rogers, the husband of one of her friends. While Rogers himself was already happily married, he did become a friend of Simpson and gave her away at her wedding.

Roger’s wife eventually died, but he quickly remarried. Simpson called him “the only man she ever loved,” and her anger over his new marriage soon began to make Simpson and her now ex-royal husband’s marriage crumble. When Edward contracted throat cancer, Simpson was rarely at his bedside. Edward was heard calling out for his wife on his deathbed, who was not ultimately there for him when he died.[2]

8 A Nazi’s Confession of Treasure

The Nazis not only invaded much of Europe, they plundered whatever valuables they could find to finance their war. Sometimes they lined their pockets with literal gold. Ever since the 1945 discovery of looted Nazi riches in a salt mine near the town of Merkers, Germany, rumors have circulated that more undiscovered Nazi gold might be hidden across Europe. One Nazi soldier claimed on his deathbed to have played a part in hiding a train filled with stolen gold in Poland, which at the time had been part of Germany.[3]

Two amateur archaeologists took him at his word. They investigated the area he directed them to and found evidence of an armored train buried beneath the surface. Yet when weeks of digging brought up nothing but dirt and a natural ice formation, the deathbed confession seemed to have proven nothing but a tall tale—or, as the two archaeologists claim, a simple case of them digging in the wrong location. Regardless of the truth of the matter, the confession ended up doing a great deal of good for the town where the train was supposedly buried. The media frenzy brought in about $200 million to the locals, meaning that the Nazi confession did lead to a different kind of treasure.[4]

7 Andrew Jackson Bucks the Royal Treatment

Andrew Jackson was a controversial figure even in his time. Although he claimed to be a president for the people, many accused him of acting as a tyrant. Whatever his motives for his acts during his presidency, though, Jackson’s last wish was for him to be buried as an everyman, and not an emperor. As he lay dying, one of his friends told him that they had obtained the sarcophagus of Roman Emperor Alexander Severus. A great admirer of the former president, his friend believed that having the ornate coffin become Jackson’s tomb would make it a pilgrimage spot for Americans.

Jackson, however, thought that being laid in such an extravagant coffin would be abandoning his political beliefs. He wanted only to be buried in a plain manner. Although thousands did end up attending his funeral, in the end, the sarcophagus was given to the Smithsonian Institute instead of housing the remains of one of the United States’ most hotly debated presidents.[5]

6 R&B Singer Reveals His Sexuality

Kenny Greene was the lead singer, songwriter, and producer for the 90’s R&B band Intro. They had several successful songs, but out of fear of what confessing his bisexuality would do to the band’s success, he kept quiet about who he truly was. Kenny, though, eventually contracted AIDS, which he battled for a long time before granting a deathbed interview where he opened up about his sexuality.

Kenny had nothing to lose on his deathbed, which he arrived at due to complications from his disease. The partner who gave him the disease had been a carrier, Kenny knew, though he had not yet succumbed to the disease himself. Kenny bore him no ill will. He wanted his legacy to be one of openness, and safety, as he warned others to both practice safe sex, and be open about who they are.[6]

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5 Chopin Demands His Heart Cut Out

Many people know Chopin as one of the greatest classical music composers of all time, but what most don’t know is that he had a tragically short life. After contracting tuberculosis, Chopin’s health degraded until he died at 39 years old. While laying in bed waiting for his approaching death, Chopin was very well aware of the possibility of being accidentally buried alive. It was a real risk at the time, and he was terrified of it.

On his deathbed, Chopin devised a relatively simple plan to avoid that gruesome fate. He ordered his sister to have the surgeons cut out his heart after his presumed death, ensuring he actually did meet his end on the operating table. She honored his bizarre wish, and Chopin’s heart was cut out, then placed in a jar of cognac to be preserved.

Due to his final wish, modern doctors were able to diagnose his cause of death. Chopin’s heart still exists, quite well-preserved, with a fibrous material covering it that led doctors to pinpoint pericarditis, a complication of tuberculosis, as the cause of his premature death. That, of course, is assuming that Chopin’s fears weren’t justified, and it wasn’t cutting out his heart that really did him in.[7]

4 Oscar Wilde’s Deathbed Conversion

Oscar Wilde had a reputation for most of his life as a decadent pleasure-seeker. He scorned traditional societal values, and was notorious, even feared, as someone who would “corrupt” those around him. A sexual relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas and an ensuing feud with his father, the Marquess of Queensbury, led to him being imprisoned for sodomy, which was illegal at the time.

But while Wilde was known for bucking traditional values, he retained a deep interest in the Catholic faith since his childhood. He had even considered becoming a priest at one point. During his imprisonment, Wilde engrossed himself in Biblical study and claimed to have a spiritual renewal. Soon after his release, he applied for a six month retreat held by the Society of Jesus.

They rejected it. And Wilde spent the next few years exiled in France, poor, depressed, and falling into alcoholism. Yet when Wilde lay on his deathbed, he requested to be received into the Catholic church. This time a priest did receive him, and gave Wilde his Last Sacraments.[8]

3 A Lung Cancer Patient Speaks to Save Others

John Wiseman was dying of complications from smoking. He was in pain, hooked up to machines, his heart and lungs failing, and doctors could no longer even operate on his bleeding ulcers because his intestines had become too soft to sew back together. He was on his deathbed with the knowledge that he only had hours left to live.

Wanting to bring about something good from his situation, he decided to make a video warning others about the dangers of smoking. He told others about his pain and how he wished that no one else would start smoking. His sister recorded it and uploaded it on Facebook to share with the world. She also shared her own message about how smoking doesn’t just hurt just you, but your family.[9]

2 Einstein’s Investigates the Mind of God

Einstein died as he lived. He was a man of science, but also of the philosophy of human existence. His last days were spent absorbed in his work. The day he died, Einstein had been finishing a speech for an Israeli Independence Day event. The contents of his speech stressed that he was human above all.[10]

But the great desire of Einstein was to create a unifying theory of everything. It was a battle he was ill-equipped for, since at the time, not all the fundamental forces had even been discovered. Einstein’s quest dragged him further away from his contemporaries, as he had rejected many of their ideas in favor of what he saw as more promising answers for the unifying theory. It occupied his thoughts even at the end, where he set aside his speech and asked that his notes be brought to him, so he could ponder the mind of God even as he went to meet whatever awaited him beyond the threshold of the reality he had struggled to comprehend.[11]

1 Aldous Huxley Trips Into The Other Side

Aldous Huxley is best known for his sci-fi dystopian world book Brave New World. After the book’s success, Huxley traveled to Hollywood to attempt to become a screenplay writer. His silver screen aspirations proved less than fruitful, and his focus quickly became less material and more spiritual in nature. He wound up traveling down the rabbit hole, as it were, into how psychedelics like LSD could unlock higher planes of existence. Interested in mysticism, he documented his experiences in his book, Doors of Perception.[12]

When Huxley was on his deathbed dying from cancer, he asked his wife to give him a large dose of LSD. The doctor allowed it, since Huxley was so far gone at that point that it would make little difference in his death. He even offered to administer the injection himself, since his wife’s hands were not steady enough to inject him. (She did calm down enough to inject it herself, though.) As for Huxley’s last trip, so to speak, those with him as he passed said that the convulsions common during the final moments did not happen as usual, and his death was the most serene they’d ever seen under the circumstances.[13]

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About The Author: Mike’s hobby is writing lists.

fact checked by Jamie Frater