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Why Can’t Anyone Say “Died?”

George Carlin once said, “Thanks to our fear of death in this country, I won’t have to die. I’ll pass away.”

Read any newspaper obituary and it will use the word died. Pass away, passed or passed away are euphemisms. I was reminded of this the other day when I went to a funeral. Like every funeral, it was a somber and sad occasion. Nobody spoke of the women who died, they spoke of her life. But when her death came up, everyone mentioned that she passed.

Passed what? Gas? She died.

Another example, I edited a magazine article in which the story’s subject was putting on a benefit in honor of a person who had died. Except the original article said “passed away.” So, I changed it to “died.”

After the magazine’s publication, the editor/publisher told me the client found it insensitive that the article included the word “died.”

I was incredulous. How could that be? Died is a neutral term, much like the word said.

She said if it was your family, it would have been insensitive.

I disagreed, because the fact remained: The person had died.

Carlin once famously talked about the “Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television.”

Died was not one of them. It just seems that way now, and I don’t understand why.

Until next time! Use the right words!


August 21, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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