I’ve become obsessed with the fact that it is no longer appropriate in our culture to use the words that someone has “died” or is “dead.” I understand that language is a living organism that is continually evolving. But using what are actually euphemisms rather than saying that “Grandma died” just seems silly. Occasionally there are some creative obituaries, which I always appreciate. After all, the story of someone’s life is being told in a few paragraphs.
Back to the words that have replaced dying and dead. For example, it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “Grandma expired.” Personally, I would rather not. Expired, according to my mother, who is a former nurse, is a medical term for death. Really? When I hear that someone has “expired” I generally think of a carton of sour cream curdling in the back of the fridge, not someone leaving this life. In all honesty, who wants to be compared to bad sour cream? Not me.
The other term that has gained popularity in recent years is to say when a person dies they have “passed,” as in “Grandma passed.” It used to be that someone who died often “passed away” (I always wondered where exactly, the afterlife in its many forms was located) but today that term has been reduced to the aforementioned “passed.” When I consider this usage, all I can think of is passing a kidney stone, an unpleasant situation in its own right. When I make that final exit, I do not wish to be equated with a kidney stone.
In our youth-obsessed culture, death is viewed as an inconvenience, not as a part of the life cycle. Whether I write my final chapter, close the book on my life, or exit stage left (or state right for that matter), I’ll have died just like everyone else does eventually. And once I’ve done that, I’ll be dead, maybe like a door nail or maybe not. Who knows? But I refuse to expire or pass.
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