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It’s very beautiful over there.” final words of inventor Thomas Edison
A person’s last words often take on an eerie significance, giving tantalizing clues about the ultimate fate of the human soul. Until now, however, no author has systematically studied end-of-life communication by using examples from ordinary people. When her father became terminally ill with cancer, author Lisa Smartt began transcribing his conversations and noticed that his personality underwent inexplicable changes. Smartt’s father, once a skeptical man with a secular worldview, developed a deeply spiritual outlook in his final days a change reflected in his language. Baffled and intrigued, Smartt began to investigate the near-death utterances of others, collecting over a hundred case studies with interviews and transcripts. In Words at the Threshold, Smartt decodes the symbolism of those last words, showing how the language of the dying points the way to a transcendent world beyond our own.
Lisa Smartt, MA, a linguist and educator, began focusing on the words of the dying when her father suddenly became ill and she was called to his bedside. Her observations as a linguist led her to the work of Dr. Raymond Moody. Lisa went on to found The Final Words Project (finalwordsproject.org) with Dr. Moody and she is a founding member of the Life After Life Institute. She has collected more than a hundred case studies, transcripts, and anecdotes associated with the mysterious language at the end of lives. She and Dr. Moody offer workshops and classes together on the investigation of life after life with special focus on the patterns of language that illuminate the cognitive processes associated with dying. A recent presentation in Philadelphia was attended by 500 people and received positive and widespread media coverage.