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Can You Lose Someone Who’s Dead?

Here I go again, talking about death and euphemistic language.

Today on the radio, I heard former New Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre talking about the recent death of this mother. The host said, “I understand you recently lost your mother.”

That got me thinking. Can you really lose someone who’s dead?

Think about it. If you can’t find something, it’s lost. A dead person isn’t lost. You know where the person died, and you know where the body is before burial or cremation. If buried, you know exactly where that person is. If cremated, you know exactly where the ashes are, until you spread them somewhere. In each case, they become lost, meaning “no longer visible.”

However, lost is also the past tense form of the word lose, and buried among the 20 definitions is this one: “to suffer loss through the death or removal of or final separation from (as a person).”

I still think that saying”I lost my parent” is a euphemism for “My parent died.” But at least it’s correct usage.

Until next time! Use the right words!


December 4, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,


  1. Of course it’s a euphemism. There are a lot of different euphemisms used when talking about death. And it’s perfectly correct, and often comforting to do so. People from different religions, and different parts of the country may use different ones. “Using the right words” doesn’t mean being completely, callously literal. Idioms, euphemisms, whatever…have their appropriate place in our language.


    Comment by Anne Davies | December 5, 2014 | Reply

  2. Hi Anne. Good to hear from you again. This reminds me of a time when, editing a magazine article, I replaced “passed away” with “died” and was told I was being insensitive, which makes no sense to me and my journalism background. “Died” is a journalistically neutral term, and it’s in every obituary you ever have or ever will read. I don’t see how that’s insensitive.


    Comment by usingtherightwords | December 5, 2014 | Reply

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