Nurses who care for the terminally ill have revealed the heart-wrenching last words of patients before they die, including their biggest regrets, fears and witnessing glimpses of heaven.

Macmillan palliative care nurses at Royal Stoke University Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, say patients often wish to see their beloved pet one last time, while others simply request a cup of tea.

One nurse described how an unwell couple asked for their beds to be pushed together before dying within 10 days of each other.

Many patients' last words include them complaining life is too short and regretting they spent their hard-earned retirement in ill health.

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Previous research from the University of North Carolina found the terminally ill and those on death row are more positive than might be expected, with many calling on family and religion to ease the anxiety of their passing.

In an online BBC clip "What do people say before they die?", the nurses add it is possible to have a 'good death' and explain why people should not be afraid of passing on.

As well as some requesting a cup of tea, nurse Dani Jervis said: "We do get people that would like their favourite tipple," the BBC reported.

Nurse Angela Beeson described how an unwell couple simply wanted their beds pushed together so they could lay side-by-side, holding hands, singing 'Slow Boat to China' together.

In terms of feeling regret, Ms Jervis said: "One person said life is too short, do the things that you want, do the things that make you happy."

Ms Beeson added: "People will have worked really hard and found their retirement was spent in ill health, not doing the things they'd hoped to."

Past research from the University of North Carolina reveals the blog posts of terminally ill patients are surprisingly uplifting, with the number of positive words increasing as they approach death.

Many also mention family and religion, suggesting these ease their anxiety.

Terminally ill patients often request to have one final cup of tea before they pass away. Photo / 123rf
Terminally ill patients often request to have one final cup of tea before they pass away. Photo / 123rf

Lead author Kurt Gray said: "When we imagine our emotions as we approach death, we think mostly of sadness and terror.

"But it turns out, dying is less sad and terrifying - and happier - than you think.

"In our imagination, dying is lonely and meaningless, but the final blog posts of terminally ill patients and the last words of death row inmates are filled with love, social connection and meaning."

Glimpses of heaven

The Macmillan nurses urge people not to be afraid of death, with some patients reporting they see glimpses of heaven and describe it as 'wonderful

Ms Beeson even said her aunt was 'talking' to her deceased grandmother moments before she died.

The team add it is possible to have a 'good death', saying communication is key, as well as being pain-free and surrounded by family.

People should openly discuss death and prepare in advance for the end of their lives, they add.