“Hard to comprehend in the human mind
Impossible to envision leaving yourself behind.”
–Charles Aubrey Rogers
Nobody wants to actually say the word dead.
We say “passed on,” “passed away,” “kicked the bucket,” “passed,” “gone to heaven,” “deceased,” “expired,” “gone,” “departed,” “fell asleep in Jesus” and a whole host of other phrases. Despite the fact that it happens to 100% of us, we are not the least bit comfortable with that subject and push it away.
Read the obituaries and see how many phrases are used to put lipstick on death. So entertaining to read some of them. Rarely does an obit say how someone died. Every time I read one that’s what I want to know. How did they die? Yet we omit that detail in a shroud of secrecy.
Doctors are taught in medical school not to mince words. When a patient dies, they are encouraged to use the word dead. Otherwise grief-stricken and shocked relatives won’t understand their relative has died. Saying they “passed on” elicited too much confusion and questions like, “What room did they go in?”
In the Western world, we bury and stuff our grief.
Granted, I wouldn’t expect someone to look forward to it like it’s happy hour. Or plan it with the excitement you’d plan a vacation to Europe. But when it happens, it’s not something to be ashamed of. Yet I’ve seen the fear in the eyes of others when I get teary as if my naked grief is an embarrassment.
We’re expected to somehow ‘move on’ when in fact it profoundly changes our lives–forces us to understand our own mortality and do something that makes our own lives more meaningful. Usually a brush with death does inspire people to take stock in their lives. Guess what? That’s actually a good thing.
I’ve decided to be very direct with my language.
I use the word suicide and died. You’ll never hear me use the phrase, “passed on” which makes me cringe.
The thought of sugar coating death with a pearly phrase that sounds like a gastrointestinal issue to make it more palatable is utterly hilarious to me.
I can literally hear Charles laughing in my ear and telling me fart jokes.