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  • Writer's pictureDr. CK Bray

Inmates' Last Words

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

The New York Times published an article on the last words of inmates on death row before their executions.  I was immediately intrigued because in grad school I spent a semester studying the final statements and wishes of individuals of all ages before they passed away, and I wondered if there was a difference in what they said.  I thought I would share the inmate’s words, as reading them provided me with meaningful insights. 


Nothing I can say can change the past.

I want to ask if it is in your heart to forgive me. You don’t have to. 

I wish I could die more than once to tell you how sorry I am. 

I want you to understand something, hold no animosity toward me. I want you to understand. Please forgive me. 

I don’t think the world will be a better or safer place without me.

I want to tell my mom that I love her. I caused her so much pain and my family and stuff. I hurt for the fact that they are going to be hurting.

Kick the tires and light the fire. I am going home. 

Cathy, you know I never meant to hurt you. 

Let my son know I love him. 

Tell everyone I got full-on chicken and pork chops. 

Mistakes are made, but with God, all things are possible. 

I am responsible for them losing their mother, their father, and their grandmother. I never meant for them to be taken. I am sorry for what I did. I can’t take it back. 

I am tired. 

I deserve this.


Most end of life or final conversations are nonverbal due to a lack of strength to hold longer conversations.  When they do speak, it will often be a whisper, and the individual will speak brief single words.  The most frequently spoken words are:

  • “I love you”

  • “Mommy” or “Mama”

  • A family member’s name

  • “Hold my hand”


  • I wish I would have had the courage to live the life I wanted.

  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

  • I wish I would have expressed my feelings more.

  • I wish I had stayed in touch with friends.

  • I wish that I had let myself be happier.



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