The last words of the condemned to death speak of love, gratitude and solidarity. If you knew that the words you would utter next would be your last, what would you say and to whom? You would probably send a message full of encouragement, love and gratitude to your loved ones. It’s a way to deal with the fear of death, psychologists claim.
Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany have concluded that people familiar with the moment of their death, as death convicts or potential suicides, tend to use more words associated with positive emotions than they would if they were in any other situation. This study was published in the latest issue of Frontiers in Psychology.
According to the author, positive thoughts keep us from the anxiety caused by the proximity of death. Awareness that we do not have enough time causes exactly that to surface the affection we feel towards people from our surroundings. These are some of the messages gathered in the investigation that belong to the latest speeches of inmates sentenced to death in Texas. I love my family. Be strong. Take care of each other. Be strong. I love you. I love you. My class has come. I love you.
I would like to thank my parents who have been my support at all times. I am grateful to Priest Williams for advising and guiding me. I look and to my right I see the victim’s family. Hope this will bring some peace to them, their son and loved ones. This has been a long day. This is not the end, this is just the beginning.
In these statements and farewell messages, as shown by other work at Youngstown State University (Ohio, USA), the most common content is related to forgiveness, silence, love or respect, statements of innocence as well as social or political activism.
Life was a gift
Gratitude is good for health, we already know that. Research published in The Journal of Positive Psychology adds that traumatic events, such as close encounters with death and serious illness, can enhance our ability to be grateful. Thinking about one’s own death increases gratitude because, at that moment, one perceives life as a gift. Doing this exercise can help strike a balance between the positive and the negative, and increase respect for life, the study authors point out, who recommend that we value low satisfaction.
A study by George Manson University of the United States also tracked this surge of beautiful words in recent death row convicts. For researchers, the result of such enlightened speeches gives an idea of how reason responds to inevitable mortality. Scientists point out that being able to give death row inmates their last words to relatives, the public, and prison workers can be helpful in regulating the intensity of their feelings, as well as to exert some control experiment in the last moments of their lives.
According to a report from the European Physical Journal, that makes sense. People based communication on positive words to make things easier for themselves. Although concepts related to negative emotions carry more information, words that are associated with good feelings are more commonly used, and they are, moreover, more useful for communication, the research concludes.
Going with style
The definition of positive thinking, rather than negative, is not, however, useful only in extreme conditions. Negative thoughts can be the cause of anxiety, which can be reduced if we learn that such thoughts are not our center of thought. We often recall sad moments that never even existed, which makes this gesture even more harmful and unnecessary. Although positive thinking does not have to improve the situation, attaching to the good times of the past is a way to reduce anxiety, according to Jennifer Lau, a researcher at the Department of Experimental Psychology, in a study by the University of Oxford. In the last moments, what we least need is to increase the anxiety caused by parting with our loved ones.