Out in the Open·Full Episode

Last Words

The last words you ever say — or the ones said about you — can be like the closing chapter of your life story. This week, Piya explores the cultural weight we give to them and asks: What do you say on the way out?

The last words you ever say — or the ones said about you — can be like the closing chapter of your life story

Listen to the full episode58:06

The last words you ever say — or the ones said about you — can be like the closing chapter of your life story. This week, Piya explores the cultural weight we give to them and asks: What do you say on the way out?

Here are the stories from this week's episode...

How to write the perfect eulogy

Wendy Dennis gets raised eyebrows when she tells people that she writes eulogies for total strangers. But she sees her job as helping others put words to feelings they don't know how to express in the moment. Wendy shares her top tips and some surprising ingredients for the ideal eulogy.

A father's hilarious last words allowed him to be present at his own funeral

In his retirement, Max Israelite took up writing, publishing stories and penning columns for the local newspaper. Before he died, Max left one final composition behind: his own eulogy. Max's son Larry shares some of it with us and tells Piya how he's come to see it as a generous parting gift to the family.

Sometimes, last words are overrated

When Luke Allnutt found out his father John had just months to live, he desperately tried to have that profound final conversation you see in the movies with his dad. But it never happened. Luke reflects on how his focus was misplaced, and why he now thinks last words are overrated.

Searching for answers in suicide notes

We often yearn for one's last words to be meaningful. But in the case of suicide, last words may not have the answers we seek. Piya speaks with three people about how the words contained in suicide notes and intended final texts affected their lives, and in one case, helped save a life

'Being big and Black makes it hard to breathe in Canada too': Why 'I can't breathe' isn't a foreign phenomenon

In his powerful personal essay, human rights and civil liberties lawyer Anthony Morgan talks about the significance of Eric Garner's last words — "I can't breathe" — and how they changed his work and his advocacy as a black man living in Canada.

He has talked more than 200 people off the ledge of the Golden Gate Bridge

When Kevin Briggs started working as a California Highway Patrol Officer, he didn't know that his job would include talking to multiple people contemplating suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge every month. Kevin talks about what these encounters have taught him about potential last words and the value of listening.


This episode of Out in the Open originally aired on February 18, 2018.

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