Saturday 3 December 2016

Any last words? Only some deathbed advice on affairs of the heart

Almost two-thirds have been given a helpful talk on relationships by a dying loved one

Anita Singh

Published 31/07/2015 | 15:52

A poll of 2,198 adults who have lost a loved one in the past year found that 83 per cent had been given parting words of wisdom by the deceased.
A poll of 2,198 adults who have lost a loved one in the past year found that 83 per cent had been given parting words of wisdom by the deceased.

Oscar Wilde reputedly complained about the wallpaper, George V, according to legend, uttered the words “Bugger Bognor” and Dylan Thomas is said to have announced: “I’ve had 18 straight whiskies – I think that’s a record.”

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All are, by popular myth at least, famous last words. But according to a survey, the most common deathbed conversations involve the rather more prosaic imparting of relationship and career advice.

A poll of 2,198 adults who have lost a loved one in the past year found that 83 per cent had been given parting words of wisdom by the deceased.

Relationship advice was the most common (62 per cent), followed by career advice (56 per cent). Others were given guidance on family (43 per cent), education (39 per cent) and finances (32 per cent).

Asked why they thought those subjects had been chosen, the most popular answer, chosen by 29 per cent of respondents, was that the loved one had wanted them to be happy.

Another 17 per cent said the loved one had urged them to go through life with no regrets.

However, not everyone on their way out of the world chooses to be so benevolent. Six per cent of respondents said the deathbed advice had been a way of teaching them a lesson, while

In the survey, carried out by Perfect Choice Funerals, 21 per cent said they had been told to correct past mistakes. Just over half (56 per cent) of respondents said they had followed deathbed advice.

A spokesman said: “Many look to give some final pieces of advice to their family before they pass away, and to do this because they want their loved one to be happy.

Relationship advice is very common in this situation, as we have seen from our research. This is the final chance to let your loved one know what you think and many take the opportunity to share their thoughts.”

In the annals of famous last words, Oscar Wilde’s remark – “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do” – is one of the most memorable.

George V is said to have uttered his insult to Bognor after being told he would soon be well enough to convalesce in the south coast resort, although the story is almost certainly a myth.

It is believed that Thomas’s claim of drinking 18 whiskies before he died in New York in 1953 was an exaggeration on the poet’s part.

Malcolm McLaren, the Sex Pistols manager, died moments after declaring: “Free Leonard Peltier,” a reference to a Native American serving life for the murder of two FBI agents. And the family of Steve Jobs disclosed that his last words in 2011 were: “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”

Telegraph.co.uk

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