The New York Times published an op-ed written by Steve Jobs' biological sister Mona Simpson Sunday, which revealed the last words of the tech titan before he passed away on Oct. 5. Jobs' final words were two monosyllables repeated three times: OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.
Please read Simpson's eulogy in its entirety here.
Jobs' final words are stirring, what moved him to repeat this phrase three times?
Did Steve have a glimpse into the afterlife? It's not uncommon for those with near-death experiences to perceive a tunnel, or a sense of moving up a staircase or passageway toward a powerful light or border. Those who have lived have even said they encountered beings of light, or other spiritual beings. This would not be surprising, considering Jobs' connection to spirituality through Zen Buddhism.
As the dying see less of this world, some people appear to begin looking into the world to come, says grief expert David Kessler. It's not unusual for the dying to have visions, often of someone who has already passed on.
Did his words arise out of pain? Jobs' death certificate claims he died from respiratory arrest caused by his metastatic pancreas neuroendocrine tumor. In her eulogy, Simpson recalled that Jobs' breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. But prior to his death, Jobs asked for special treatment in his final hours and received it, so it's likely that Jobs received palliative care, or opioids, to numb the pain.
The principle of double effect is used to justify the administration of medication to relieve pain even though it may lead to the unintended, although foreseen, consequence of hastening death by causing respiratory depression, says a paper published by the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care. Opioids can depress both the rate and depth of respiration.
Some suggest Jobs experienced what many experience in their last moments: Life flashing before their eyes. If this were the case, Jobs would have surely uttered these words if he had a chance to look back at his life's work. From his work life at Apple, NeXT and Pixar, to his family life with his wife and children, Jobs' words may have been the only ones that could truly encapsulate his unbelievable accomplishments.
Simpson believes her brother's last words had something to do with his capacity for wonderment, the artist's belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later. Maybe Jobs had a glimpse into the world beyond, and was amazed by what he saw. Maybe he was overwhelmed by all of the love in the room, looking from his children, to his wife, to beyond them. Maybe he had one more life-changing idea right before he passed.