what LAST words reveal about life, death, and consciousness
The Final Words Project
My name is Lisa Smartt. Five years ago. I listened in stunned silence as my skeptical and rationalist father described seeing angels in his last days of life. Three days before dying, he announced, "The angels say only three days left now." He spoke of a "green dimension" and his room crowded with people who were unseen to me. He also spoke in poetic and metaphoric language, describing the big art show that was approaching and the boxes he had to carry for his ceramicist wife of 54 years.
I listened in awe as I transcribed his final words that not only painted a world unseen to me but were rich in language patterns that appeared to be unique to end of life. Trained in linguistics, I was deeply curious about the language I witnessed. When I discovered little or no research had been done into people's final words, I established The Final Words Project (2014) with Dr. Raymond Moody to learn more. Raymond, who coined the term near-death experience, has had a lifelong interest in language and joined me on this exploration into last words. My book Words at the Threshold, offers the early findings of our investigation. Learn more about how we conducted this informal inquiry.
Reflections on UNINTELLIGIBILITY by Dr. Raymond Moody
from the foreword of Words at the Threshold
My main interest as a student and subsequently professor of philosophy had to do with the fascinating domains of language that exist beyond the literal. I studied figurative and unintelligible or nonsensical forms of language for their relevance to the solutions of important philosophical problems. Later on, as a medical doctor and psychiatrist, I was intrigued by the enigmatic language spoken by terminally ill and dying patients. Like many other clinicians, I was inspired and mystified by curious figures of speech and nonsensical expressions that people often utter as they are dying. A major rethinking of the meaning of puzzling language spoken by the terminally ill is long overdue.
Making Sense of Nonsense
explores the connection between nonsensical language and transpersonal and mystical experience. The book was the inspiration behind the establishment of The Final Words Project.