A Look at the Euphemisms Used for Death
Before and after cremations in Youngtown, AZ, as people talk about their deceased loved ones and we as mourners talk with them, everyone treads carefully in describing death. Instead of simply saying, “John died,” we use expressions like, “John passed on,” or “John passed away,” or “John is at rest,” or “John is at peace.”
We do this because we think it softens the impact of death and doesn’t remind everyone of the harsh reality that someone they love is gone and not coming back in this life. But euphemisms may do more harm than good, especially when talking with children about death.
There are many death and death-related euphemisms that we use so frequently that we are probably unaware that we’re avoiding a direct discussion of death, dying, and grieving.
Some of the common substitute words we use for death include departure, passing, exit, demise, and resting. Instead of saying someone is grieving the loss of a loved one, we use words that describe the emotions and feelings of grieve. These include loss, broken-hearted, sadness, sorrow, anguish, and suffering.
Dying is something we avoid using direct references to, instead preferring phrases such as drew their last breath, lost their lives, gone to meet their Maker, and crossed the Great Divide. And we seldom say someone is deceased, instead using expressions like passed away, perished, expired, departed, no more, and gone.
When we step back objectively and look at the euphemisms we used for dying, grief, and death, we can see that, especially when talking with children about death, that many of these words have a different meaning in contexts other than death and may give children a misleading impression about the permanence of death and it may generate unintentional fears in them.
For example, if we say to a child that, “John is gone,” their impression, in their innocence, may be that John just left for a little while, but he’ll be back. We then have to clarify that “gone” means John is never coming back in this physical life. Then we inadvertently may create another problem because now the word “gone” is associated with “forever” in the child’s mind. So the next time we tell our child that “I’ll be gone tomorrow,” for instance, the child may react with a real fear that we are never coming back and a meltdown may ensue.
Children put things together in a funny way because they don’t have enough knowledge and experience, as we adults do, to make the more complex and correct connections about things. We all have things that we made connections about in childhood that are not accurate or that seem silly or trivial in the light of day, but we can’t shake them.
Fears and phobias are that way. If you made the connection in childhood that all dogs, for instance, are vicious and will attack you, then you, as an adult, still have an instant reaction of fear when you see a dog.
Even though the words, “died,” “death,” “dying,” “dead,” and “grieving” sound harsh to our ears, we should use them when talking with children about death. They don’t need irrational fears lurking about with other everyday words. And by using the actual words, we open the door for questions and answers about the one thing, other than birth, all of us will eventually experience.
For more information on how to talk about death after cremations in Youngtown, AZ, our compassionate and experienced team at Simply Cremation & Funeral Arrangements is here to help. You can come to our funeral home at 16952 W. Bell Rd., #303, Surprise, AZ, 85374, or you can contact us today at (623) 975-9393.