Ep. 52: Lisa Smartt — How to Listen to Loved Ones at the End of Life

My guest this week is Lisa Smartt, whose recent book, Words at the Threshold, examines what those who are dying say as they approach the end of life. This is a really important topic, as Lisa reveals that the dying are often communicating much more to us than we might realize. By paying attention in the ways she recommends, their final words in this life become more comprehensible.

Topics we explored together included:

  • How language reveals one’s mental processes
  • Lisa’s father’s experience that piqued her interest in final words
  • The common occurrence of a person announcing a “big event” as they near their death
  • The value of writing down what our loved ones say toward the end of their life
  • Common metaphors, constructions, and premonitions that show up in final words
  • Synchronicities at the threshold of death that can guide us to better living
  • The appearance of “takeaway figures” in the language of the dying (describing the deceased at their bedside)
  • Ways that those who are dying try to signal to loved ones that their death is nearing
  • The emergence of “terminal lucidity” near the end of life
  • Nonverbal communication with those who are dying
  • Being open to the mysterious
  • The existence of something accessible that is beyond us (or beside us)
  • What those who are dying need from us as we sit with them
  • The wisdom the dying have to offer

Lisa’s book is available here (a percentage of sales made through this affiliate link will be used to support the podcast, at no additional cost to you): Words at the Threshold: What We Say as We’re Nearing Death

You can find a free chapter of her book on the Final Words Project website.

Lisa Smartt, MA, is a linguist and educator. She founded the Final Words Project, an ongoing study devoted to gathering and interpreting the mysterious language at the end of life.

Lisa has co-facilitated presentations with Dr. Raymond Moody at universities, hospices, and conferences about language and consciousness; they recently founded the online educational platform, The University of Heaven. Her work has been featured  in The Atlantic, GAIA TV, Coast to Coast AM Radio, and dozens of other media platforms.

Lisa recently published Cante Bardo, a novel about a flamenco singer, and Veil, a book of poems inspired by her father.

Connect with Lisa online at the Final Words Project website and by email.

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