Final words from famous people

picture of a man with a briefcase

They might be wise or just trying to be witty, but whatever the intention – we can learn a lot about famous people from their last words. Here are a few favourites from people in the public eye who are no longer with us.

Offering advice

It seems that many people are keen to give out life lessons and advice as they approach their final moments. A recent survey found that 83% of the 2,000-plus adults questioned had received final words of advice from their loved ones:

Famous people have often exhibited the same need to pass on their wisdom. According to author Charles Dickens’ obituary, which was published in The Times, his final words were directed to his offspring: “Be natural my children. For the writer that is natural has fulfilled all the rules of art.”

While philosopher Karl Marx championed the need for brevity – offering advice with his last words while at the same time undermining the importance that we sometimes bestow on them: “Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.”

However, we think last words are worth listening to – here are some of our favourites.

Deathbed humour

Humphrey Bogart – actor: “I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.”

 

Oscar Wilde – author, playwright, diarist: “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.”

Intimation of what’s to come

 

Michel de Nostradamus – apothecary and prediction-maker: “You will not find me alive at sunrise.”

 

Emily Dickinson – poet: “I must go in, the fog is rising.”

Expressing humility

Sir Isaac Newton – mathematician, astronomer, and physicist: “I don’t know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

 

Leonardo da Vinci – Italian Renaissance polymath: “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”

Love: personal and public

Author of the Sherlock Holmes stories Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died in his garden, having turned to his wife and said: “You are wonderful.” While George Harrison, singer-songwriter and member of The Beatles, urged people to “love one another”, his last words were recorded by his wife.

Last requests

Leonard Marx, better known as Chico Marx and brother to Groucho, gave instructions to his wife: “Remember, honey, don’t forget what I told you. Put in my coffin a deck of cards, a mashie niblick [a golf club], and a pretty blonde.” While convicted murderer James W. Rodgers prepared to face a firing squad in Utah having uttered one final request: “Bring me a bullet-proof vest.”

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The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

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The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

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In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

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A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

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Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
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In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
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In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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