Last Words, Epitaphs, and Quotes

"Grief is Nature's greatest aphrodisiac."

Legendary wedding crasher Chaz (Will Ferrell) from "The Wedding Crashers."

"Either 'I knew this would happen' or 'I'd like to thank my mother and father because without them I couldn't have come this far.'"

Dustin Hoffman, proposed gravestone epitaphs, from a "60 Minutes" interview (November 28, 2004)

"To die will be an awfully big adventure."

Peter Pan

"Go Away!"

Artie Shaw, proposed epitaph for his grave (source: NPR interview)

"I get no respect. I bought a cemetery plot.  The guy said, 'There goes the neighborhood'."

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield

"When I was a kid we were so poor, when my father died they asked my mother, 'Paper or plastic?'"

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield

"Terry, all of us are going to die, darling.  It's just that some of us have been asked to leave more quickly than others."

- Jill (Julia Davis) talking to her husband Terry who is dying of cancer; from the dark, British television comedy, "Nighty Night."  

Terry (to Jill who is about to leave his hospital room): "You off?"

Jill: "No point in both of us getting depressed."

- Jill (Julia Davis) talking to her husband Terry who is dying of cancer; from the dark, British television comedy, "Nighty Night."  


From the season finale of "Six Feet Under"(2004 season).  The late Nathaniel Fisher, Sr. speaks with his son David:

Dad: "You're not even grateful, are you?"

David: "Grateful? For the worst fucking experience of my life?"

Dad: You hang on to your pain like it means something.  Like its worth something.  Well let me tell you it's not worth shit.  Let it go!  (Looks up to heaven) Infinite possibilities and all he can do is whine."

David: "Well, what am I suppose to do?"

Dad: "What do you think? You can do anything you lucky're alive! What's a little pain compared to that?"

David: "It can't be so simple."

Dad: "What if it is?" (They embrace and watch the rain).



"You don't even regret the life that you're not going to have, because you'll be dead.  And the dead don't feel anything.  Not even regret."

Sarah Polley's character, on her death bed, in the 2003 movie, "My Life Without Me."

"I don't really believe in heaven and hell, but in the here and now and that we are meant to live in such a way that we can hope there is always something better than we currently have.  I believe how I act today will affect the way I am tomorrow.  And one day, I'll die and that doesn't  frighten me.  I think it will be fine, perfectly fine...because I'll just be taking a long, wonderful nap."

Kate Hepburn, from an interview with A. Scott Berg; excerpted from "Kate Remembered" (July 2003; G.P. Putnam's Sons).

"They're too dead to defend themselves."

John Perry Barlow, friend of John F. Kennedy, Jr., on a new book making gossipy allegations about troubles between Kennedy and his wife Carolyn before their death in a plane crash in 1999; as reported in Time magazine, July 14, 2003.

"...the absolute understanding of how short your life is.  That's the one thing you wake up with every day:  How long have I got left?  And that's the saddest thing in the world, because you have this absolute realization that everything you love you're going to have to let go of and give up."

David Bowie, from an interview in Entertainment Weekly's May 31, 2002 issue, page 34.

"Only the dead have seen the end of war."



"The strange thing about death is that there's really no closure; everything just stops."

Chasity Bono, about her lover's death, in her book "The End of Innocence," as quoted in the Lamda Book Report.


"There'll come a time when all of us must leave here
as nothing in this life that I've been trying
can equal or surpass the art of dying."

George Harrison, "The Art of Dying," 1970.


"Sunrise doesn't last all morning,
A cloudburst doesn't last all day,
Seems my love is up,
And has left you with no warning
But it's not always going to be this grey."

-George Harrison, "All Things Must Pass," 1970.


"Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

-  Carrie Fischer  (as seen in Esquire, January 2002; interviewed by Mike Sager as part of a "What I've Learned" feature). 


"When President Kennedy was visiting a few weeks ago, he stopped in that same spot.  He looked out toward the monuments, and I heard him say that this was the most beautiful sight in Washington."

- a park ranger at Arlington Cemetery to Robert McNamara.  McNamara had just recommended the same spot to Jackie for the burial of the President  (as seen in Esquire, January 2002; interviewed by Cal Fussman as part of a "What I've Learned" feature). 


"Before anything else is done, fifty cents (is to) be paid to my son-in-law to enable him to buy himself a good stout rope with which to hang himself."

- Garvey B. White, 1908.  The excerpt above is from a will, from which the author could not resist the chance to throw one final zinger from the grave (as seen in Readers Digest, April 2001). 


"A wedding is a funeral where you smell your own flowers." 

- Singer/comedienne/ABC-TV personality Kacey Jones


"She's had more bones buried in her then Forest Lawn." 

- Triumph the Insult Dog to actress/comedienne Brett Butler at Rob Reiner's NY Friar's Roast on Comedy Central.


"The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men." 

- Charles de Gaulle


"This has nothing to do with the patient; it's about youYou are afraid of death.  And you can't be!  You're in medicine and you have to accept the fact that everything we do here is a stall.  We're just trying to keep  the game going.  That's it.  But, ultimately, it always ends up the same way." 

- Veteran doctor Perry Cox (John C. McGinley) to Dr. J.D. Dorian (Zach Braff) on "Scrubs" (October 16th episode).  After this speech, Dorian imagines Death beating him at a game of "Score Four."


"Dead broad off the table!" 

- Shrek to the Seven Dwarfs after they shove a glass casket with Snow White on his dinner table.


"Let the minutes reflect that Nina has put a dead person on the table." 

- Dennis Finch (David Spade) from the "Just Shoot Me" episode where Nina tries to cope with the death of her best friend, Ginny.  Nina spends much of the episode carrying around an urn with her friend's ashes in it, including to a staff meeting (which explains the quote above).


"There are worst things in life than death, and if you've spent an evening with an insurance salesman, you know what I mean." 
- Woody Allen (taken from the end of the movie, "Life and Death").

* 2001 Golden Globe-Winning Series!
From Six Feet Under (Season finale, episode #13, "Knock, Knock")

Tracy Blair (mourning her Aunt Lillian and speaking privately to Nate): "Why do people die?"

Nate: (after a long pause) "To make life important.
None of us know how long we've got.
Which means we have to make each day matter.
And it sounds like your Aunt Lillian did exactly that."

Tracy: "Yeah, she did."

Nate: "And you can be happy for her for living a life, well-lived.
And that's the most any of us can hope for."

(Note from Grinny:  Thank you Alan Ball for such a simple, yet eloquent speech!  This matches the wonderful closing thoughts from Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) in "American Beauty.")

* "It's hard.  I go to a funeral, and they be like, 'Why you tellin' no jokes?'  It's a funeral, man!" - Rush Hour 2's Chris Tucker on feeling pressured to be funny all the time, on E! Online (source: the special Fall Double Issue of Entertainment Weekly).

"Mourning the loss of someone we love is happiness compared to having to live with someone we hate." - Jean de La Bruyere

"The final reward of the dead -  to die no more." - Nietzsche


"We spend our immortal years (ages 12 to 40) not thinking about death, our middle years (41 - 60) trying not to think about death, and our later years (61 - 115) trying not to die."

   - author Greg Palmer, from his book Death: The Trip of a Lifetime.

From Six Feet Under (Episode nine, "Life is Too Short")
Brenda (to Nate and her brother Billy): "You know what I find interesting? When you lose your spouse, you are called a widow or widower.  If you are a child and lose your parents, then you're an orphan.  But, what's the word to describe a parent who loses a child? I guess that's just too fucking awful to have a name."

From Six Feet Under (Episode six, "The Room")

 Nate (Peter Krause) talks to his father's ghost in a run-down, one-room apartment his father kept in trade for a funeral service.

Dad: "...(I) know the meaning of life."

Nate: "That seems fairly useless."

Dad: "Yeah I know.  Life is wasted on the living."



"Those of us who've spent some time in the agricultural sector...understand how unfair the death penalty is - death tax is - and we need to get rid of it.  I don't want to get rid of the death penalty.  Just the death tax."  
- President Bush, trying to draw important distinctions for an audience in Omaha.  
(source: Chicago Tribune April 1, 2001)


"Smooth as chalk dust you'd laugh
in the face of
death and uncertainty"
- singer-songwriter/poet Jewel, from her book, "Bukowski's Widow" 
(as noted in Newsweek June 4, 2001)


"Death isn't death
it's life
that's jumped off a tall cliff
Tears are not tears

They're balls
of laughter
dipped in salt"
- singer-songwriter/poet Paul McCartney from his book, "Black Jacket." (as noted in Newsweek June 4, 2001)


"When I die, I would like to be born again as me." -  Playboy's Hugh Hefner at a speaking engagement at the University of Oxford.



"This is gonna be on my tombstone...She made Barbara Walters cry." -  Cynthia McFadden, correspondent who interviewed Walters' adopted daughter for an ABC special, bringing Walters to tears.



"I love welcoming the young stars to show business, because it reminds me of my own death." -  Steve Martin, host, 73rd Annual Academy Awards



"Oh, they'll get old and wrinkled and die too." -  Madonna, on why she isn't worried about her twenty-something rivals on the pop charts, to Elle.


"Funerals are a happy thing, Harold.  In death there is always rebirth."
- Herbie, Harold's (Peter Sellers) brother in the 60s film, "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas."


"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."
- Soren Kierkergaard (this quote sent by "gravedigger" R. Pobiak)


Scriptwriter Joe Turner White (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is talking with Doc Wilson on the street.  The old doctor takes a swig from his bottle of bourbon.
Joe: "Shouldn't you be setting an example?"
Doc: "All I do is hold their hand while they die."

(from David Mamet's movie, "State & Main")



Opening segment of "Friends" holiday episode (12/14/00).  Phoebe brings a ceramic skull to Monica and Chandler's apartment.
Phoebe: "(My mom) use to put it out ever Christmas to remind us, even though it's Christmas, people die. (Count) And, you can put candy in it!"




"If you die when there's no one watching,
 then your ratings drop and you're forgotten."  

-Marilyn Manson from "Lamb of God," a cut from the "Holy Wood (In the Shadow of  the Valley of Death") release.




"I wanted no part of it.  Look what happened to Alec Guinness.  Here's one of the greatest artists of the last century, and all people know him for today is having played Obi-Wan Kenobi.  I wouldn't want that sort of thing to be my epitaph."  

-Billy Crudup on why you won't find him in a Star Wars film, on




"I think in the last six months, we've probably buried 20 fishing rods."

-Lombard, IL funeral director Robert Van Staalduinen, on the growing desire for personal touches in funerals (Chicago Tribune)




"After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure."

-Dumbledore, from "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"




"Why don't they make gravestones look cheerier?"
"Probably because of that whole death thing involved with it."

-Spinal Tap band members at Elvis' grave (additional footage added to the "This is Spinal Tap"  DVD; film originally released in 1984). SPINAL TAP RULES!



Catherine Romano: "Funny how life works, the different paths....

"Junior" Soprano: "Yeah, all leading to the cemetery."

       - The Sopranos, March 26, 2000 (the second best show on television -  I don't care what anyone says, Sports Night rules!!!)



"Yeah, the rituals are intense, arcane and some of them are just perverse.  I mean, the stuff that we put in the movie is tame in comparison.  Like the 'rebirth ritual' where a guy lays naked in a coffin....George W. Bush was (in Skull & Bones).  So, if that man gets elected President, I will never, ever be able to take him seriously.  C'mon, you were in that coffin!"

- Joshua Jackson on the model for the Skulls' secret society on Bigstar (from Entertainment Weekly 4-14-00).


* "Everybody dies.  Sooner or later."

                 -  Bruce Willis, as a hit man in "The Whole Nine Yards"


"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve it through not dying."

                                   -  Woody Allen


* "Research shows you'll be dead longer than you'll be alive."

                                  - Zig Zigler


"When I die, you talk, I'll listen."

                                 -  Jack Lemmon, as Morrie, talking about visiting   his grave, from the t.v. presentation of "Tuesdays with Morrie."


"The executioner is, I believe, very expert....and my neck is very slender."

                                - Anne Boleyn, kneeling at the block in 1536 (from "Dead Men Talking" of the Dubious Achievements of the Millennium/Esquire/January 2000)


"Is this safe?"            

                               - William Palmer, testing the trapdoor before being hanged in 1856 (from "Dead Men Talking" of the Dubious Achievements of the Millennium/Esquire/January 2000)



"Folks, you're about to see a baked Appel." 

                               - George Appel, just before he was electrocuted in 1928 (from "Dead Men Talking" of the Dubious Achievements of the Millennium/Esquire/January 2000)





"Congratulations! You're standing on your very own graves!"
Martin (John Mahoney) to Niles and Frasier when he surprises them by
purchasing them burial plots near his own.
(Third episode of "Frasier" in the 1999-2000 television season)



Frasier: We all have to be prepared when the cold hand of death knocks at
your door.

(There's a well-timed knock at his front door)

Frasier to Niles: Will you get that?
Niles: Absolutely not!

(Third episode of "Frasier" for the 1999-2000 television season; this
episode is JAMMED with funeral, cemetery, death, and grave references! A
"To Die For!" classic!!).



It's true no man is an island. But if you string a bunch of dead guys together, it makes a pretty good raft.

- Max Cannon, author of the comic strip, "Redmeat."




Ross: I just don't want my tombstone to read, "Ross Geller, Three Divorces."
Phoebe: Well if you're worried about that, your tombstone can read anything you want it to read. It could say, "Ross Geller, Good At Marriage." Mines going to say, "Phoebe Buffet, Buried Alive."
(From the first "Friends" episode of the 1999-2000 season)


Joey: I don't want to die!
Phoebe: No, no, it'll be fun. We can come back and haunt these guys.
(From the second "Friends" episode of the 1999-2000 season; Phoebe thinks
she's going to die because of her psychic's prediction and Joey thinks he's
going to die from a painful hernia).


 "You look pretty good for a dead guy." Rosie (Maria Bello) to Porter (Mel
Gibson) in "Payback."


"The father of the multiplex movie theater died this week.....His funeral will be held on Saturday at 12:20, 2:40, 6:30 and 10:15."

- Dennis Miller from Dennis Miller Live (as reported in Entertainment Weekly)


 "Everybody I want to work with is dead. Like Winston Churchill. I'd get him to come and talk over one of my tracks."

- U.K. pop star Robbie Williams (from an interview in Entertainment Weekly's Summer Double "IT" Issue 1999).


 "I love dead, hate living."

- Boris Karloff as Frankenstein in "The Bride of Frankenstein," recently resurrected in the Academy-Award nominated movie, "Gods and Monsters."

* Salvatore "Sonny" Philip Bono, former mayor of Palm Springs (CA) and pop-singer, is buried in Desert Memorial Park in Palm Springs. His gravestone inlcludes the song lyric: "And the beat goes on." (Obviously not a reference to his heart).
* Francis Albert Sinatra is also buried in Desert Memorial Park and his monument displays the song title "The Best is Yet to Come." Sinatra's new neighbors, besides Sonny Bono, include song and dance man Busby Berkely, actor William "The Thin Man" Powell, and actor Cameron Mitchell. For more information, check out "Visit a graveyard after you golf!" in our Loose Dirt section.

 "A street magician has buried himself in a six-foot-by-two-foot glass coffin - or as we refer to it here in Manhattan, a studio apartment." - David Letterman, discussing David Blaine's publicity stunt, on Late Night.
*  "I'm not afraid of death, I just don't want to be there when it happens" - Woody Allen (suggested by gravedigger J.Turner at Eton College in England).
*  "I would hope that's not what's going to be written on my gravestone: 'They were really hers.'" - Yasmine Bleeth, talking breasts, in Redbook (January 1999).
*  "There are no luggage racks on a hearse." - Louise Czuba
*  "You are going to die of something eventually. You might as well die tanned." - Nichole Dornin, a University of Pittsburgh senior, on ignoring health hazards by basking on the beach in Florida (3/11/97, Chicago Tribune).
*  About the after life: "I've always liked the notion of meeting the great figures in history. Then I think, what if it's like high school and all the cool dead people don't want to hang out with me. Mozart will tell me he's busy, but then I'll see him out with Shakespeare and Lincoln." - Niles Crain from the Frasier episode where Eddie deals with doggy depression.
*  "When I die I want it to be on my 100th birthday, at my beach house on Maui, and I want my husband to be so upset he has to drop out of college." - Roz from the Frasier episode where Eddie suffers from doggy depression.
*  "Whom do you side with, Burt Reynolds or Loni Anderson? They don't interest me. I find dead people captivating. Errol Flynn in his prime - nobody living can hold a candle to him!" - actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson (Entertainment Weekly interview (11/3/95).
*  You're taken to a projection room and shown all the possibilities - like, had you taken the subway instead of the cab, this would have happened. If you'd majored in chemistry instead of theater, this would have happened. That's the movie I'd like to watch through eternity." - actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson, on life after death
*  "You can't think of this as a car. It's like a big fiberglass vault." - Robert Miller, caretaker of a Pennsylvania cemetery where George Swanson was buried at his request in his 1984 Corvette.
*  In a recent interview, Details magazine asked Steven Tyler from Aerosmith how he would describe his funeral. Tyler replied, "Some kind of Bourbon Street celebration....and then I'd like to have my ashes spread all over the beach. So even after I'm dead, I'm still gonna get in girls' pants."
*  "To sleep; perchance to dream; ay, there's the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil...." - Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1
*  "How were the circus receipts today at Madison Square Garden?" - P.T. Barnum*
*  "Now comes the mystery." - Henry Ward Beecher*
*  "Waiting are they? Well, goddamn'em, let'em wait!" - Ethan Allen*
*  "We're in the estate furniture business. We buy furniture from dead people." - Peter Boyle, as "Ox" Callahan, in the movie "While You Were Sleeping."
*  "Here lies my wife: Here let her lie/Now she's at rest, and so am I" - John Dryden's epitaph for his wife
*  "Do not go gentle into that good night, old age should burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light." - Dylan Thomas
*  Roger Maris' grave in Holy Cross Cemetery in Fargo, North Dakota reads: "61 in '61, Against All Odds."
*  "I'll walk you home." - Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Angel her Vampire boyfriend, as they romantically walk through a cemetery at night (from "Some Assembly Required" - originally aired September 22, 1997)
*  Jack Beglinger of Orlando, CA reports that: Ripley - of "Believe It or Not" is buried in Odd Fellow Cemetery, Santa Rosa, California in the family plot with his parents. His tombstone has his name and the "Ripley - Believe It or Not" logo as the last words.
*  Mel Blanc, the voice of many Warner Brothers animated favorites, has a tombstone which reads: "That's All Folks!"
*  Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche said: "In heaven, all the interesting people are missing."
*  "I'm losing it." - Frank Sinatra's last words, according to Daily Variety's Army Archerd.
*  "(Tupac Shakur's death) could have been prevented…..There's a lesson to be learned about rap - and rock and roll as a whole: You have to control your speed and pump your brakes sometimes. Tupac's death is no different than James Dean's or anybody else's who was a star and pushed it too hard." - Rapper-turned-actor ICE-T on E! Online (as reported in Entertainment Weekly).
*  "Till death do us part, Marie. After that, you're on your own." - Frank (Peter Boyle), explaining to his wife why he sold half their burial plot, on Everybody Loves Raymond.
*  "I am to die for!"- Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy just before she kisses/kills two asylum guards and frees Mr. Freeze in "Batman and Robin" (1997).
*  "I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with a lot of pleasure."-Clarence Darrow
*  "I Told You I Was Sick" - from a gravestone in Key West, Florida.
*  In his book The Secret Word is Groucho (1976), the film and television comedian suggested the following epitaph for himself: Here Lies Groucho Marx and Lies and Lies and Lies. P.S. He never kissed an ugly girl.
*  "I start every morning with the New York Times. The first thing I do when I get up is read the obituary column. If my name isn't in it, I get dressed."- Alan King
*from "The Harper Book of American Quotations"(Harper and Row)

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