Feeling ever more poorly, Chopin longed to have a family member with him. In June 1849 his sister Ludwika Jędrzejewicz, who had given him his first piano lessons, agreed to come to Paris.

In September 1849, Chopin took a very beautiful, sunny apartment at Place Vendôme 12. The second-floor, seven-room apartment had previously housed the Russian embassy; Chopin could not afford it, but Jane Stirling, his wealthy Scottish pupil, rented it for him.

On 15 October, when his condition took a marked turn for the worse, his numerous visitors were asked to leave, and a handful of his closest friends remained with him. A couple of times during those last two days, they thought that the end had come, but the composer was able to catch his breath again. He asked Delfina Potocka to play sonatas and prayed and called out to God, though only a few days earlier he had refused confession, saying that he did not believe in it. He complained that George Sand had promised that he “would die in her arms.” He asked for a piece of paper and wrote: “Comme cette terre m’étouffera, je vous conjure de faire ouvrir mon corps pour [que] je ne sois pas enterré vif.” (“As this earth will suffocate me, I implore you to have my body opened so that I will not be buried alive.”)

On Wednesday 17 October, after midnight, the physician leaned over him and asked whether he was suffering greatly. “Not any more,” Chopin replied. He died a few minutes before two o’clock in the morning.

Frédéric Chopin’s illness and the cause of his death remained unclear and consequently have become a matter of medical argument. His death certificate stated the cause as tuberculosis. In 2008 an alternative cause of Chopin’s death would be proposed: cystic fibrosis. In counterpoint, it can well be argued that survival with cystic fibrosis in the 19th century until the age of 39 was virtually impossible, without modern respiratory therapy and medical support. A full review of the possible causes of Chopin’s long illness has recently been published. Given the contextual facts, it is much more likely that Chopin suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis.

Many people who had not been present at Chopin’s death would later claim to have been there. “Being present at Chopin’s death,” writes Tad Szulc, “seemed to grant one historical and social cachet.” Those actually around his bed appear to have included his sister Ludwika Jędrzejewicz, Princess Marcelina Czartoryska, Solange and Auguste Clésinger (George Sand’s daughter and son-in-law), Chopin’s friend and former pupil Adolf Gutmann, his friend Thomas Albrecht, and his confidant, Polish Catholic priest Father Aleksander Jełowicki.

Later that morning, Clésinger made Chopin’s death mask and a cast of his left hand, to which Chopin had given prominence in his compositions. Before the funeral, pursuant to his dying wish, his heart was removed. It was preserved in alcohol (perhaps brandy) to be returned to his homeland, as he had requested. His sister smuggled it in an urn to Warsaw, where it was later sealed within a pillar of the Holy Cross Church on Krakowskie Przedmieście, beneath an epitaph sculpted by Leonard Marconi, bearing an inscription from Matthew VI:21: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Chopin’s heart has reposed there – except for a period during World War II, when it was removed for safekeeping – within the church that was rebuilt after its virtual destruction during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. The church stands only a short distance from Chopin’s last Polish residence, the Krasiński Palace at Krakowskie Przedmieście 5.

The funeral, to be held at the Church of the Madeleine in Paris, was delayed almost two weeks, until 30 October. Chopin had requested that Mozart’s Requiem be sung. The Requiem had major parts for female voices, but the Church of the Madeleine had never permitted female singers in its choir. The Church finally relented, on condition that the female singers remain behind a black velvet curtain.
The soloists in the Requiem included the bass Luigi Lablache – who had sung the same work at the funerals of Haydn and Beethoven, and had also sung at Bellini’s funeral – and Chopin’s and George Sand’s friend, the mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot. Also played were Chopin’s Préludes No. 4 in E minor and No. 6 in B minor. The organist was Franz Liszt.

The funeral was attended by nearly three thousand people, but George Sand was not among them.

The funeral procession traversed the considerable distance from the church, in the center of town, adjacent to the Opera, to Père Lachaise Cemetery at the city’s eastern edge. It was led by the dean of the Polish Great Emigration, the aged Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski; immediately after the casket, which was borne by shifts of artists (including Eugène Delacroix, cellist Auguste Franchomme and pianist Camille Pleyel), walked Chopin’s sister Ludwika.

Chopin was interred at Père Lachaise Cemetery, in accordance with his wishes. At the graveside, the Funeral March from his Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35, was played, in Napoléon Henri Reber’s instrumentation.

Chopin’s tombstone, featuring the muse of music, Euterpe, weeping over a broken lyre, was designed and sculpted by Auguste Clésinger. The expenses of the funeral and monument, in the amount of five thousand francs, were covered by Jane Stirling, who also paid for Chopin’s sister’s return to Warsaw. Jane Stirling wore black mourning dresses for a long time thereafter (some sources say for the rest of her life).

Chopin’s grave attracts numerous visitors and is consistently decorated with flowers, even in winter.