How to say Dead – Let me count the ways

How to say Dead – Let me count the ways

As I sit and reflect on the Easter holiday weekend just past, I feel a sense of irony around the marking of this most important date on the Christian calender. As a death fearing society, we seem so afraid to talk about death as if by doing so we can in some way catch it! Yet, we can mark the death of a man called Jesus with holidays, and regale in graphic detail the death of this man to the same children who we would shelter and hide the dead body of someone they have loved. Pondering this irony, led me to thinking about all the euphemisms we use to address death. With a bit more research, I found more I had never heard of. Some of them are quite funny and playful, but does this humour again try to shield us from facing a reality we view as cold and hard. What if we celebrated our loved ones letting go and transitioning with a level of awe and reverence that we afford Jesus’s journey? Would we then find using the words, dead and death would elicit a sense of peace, love and celebration?

The list of euphemisms is quite extensive, and truly speaks to how unwilling we are to state death as it is. Dying. Dead. Death. Died.

Death in polite company:

  • Passed, passed on, or passed away
  • Resting in peace, eternal rest, asleep
  • Demise
  • Deceased
  • Departed, gone, lost, slipped away
  • Lost her battle, lost her life, succumbed
  • At peace
  • Born asleep
  • Gone to the Big place in the sky
  • Gone to a better place
  • Didn’t make it
  • Breathed her last
  • Went to be with the Lord, Went to Heaven, Met his Maker
  • Was called home, is in a better place
  • Faded away
  • Came to an end
  • Meet ones maker
  • Their Hour has come
  • Struck down
  • Crossed over
  • In a better place
  • With the angels
  • Joined the choir invisible
  • In the grave
  • On heavens shores
  • Out of their misery
  • With the angels
  • Sprouted wings

Death with a touch of humor

  • Pushing up daisies
  • Belly up
  • Gave up the ghost
  • Bite the dust
  • Assumed room temperature
  • Carked it
  • Cashed in their chips
  • Came to a sticky ending
  • Croaked it
  • Hit the final curtain
  • Crossed the Jordan
  • Dead as a door nail
  • Dead as a Dodo
  • Dropping like flies
  • Done for
  • Fallen off the perch
  • Given up the ghost
  • Worm food
  • Gone home in a box
  • Take a dirt nap
  • Take the last train to Glory
  • Had their final innings
  • Shuffle of this mortal coil
  • Six feet under
  • Sleeping with the fishes (murdered)
  • Snuffed out
  • Put down
  • Put to sleep
  • Turn up ones toes
  • Wearing a pine over coat
  • Wiped out
  • Topped themselves
  • Checked out
  • Finally Got His/Her Tab Called At The Bar Of Life.
  • Finished
  • Flatlined
  • Got their one way ticket
  • Past their used by date
  • Left the building
  • Kicked the oxygen habit
  • Met their maker
  • On the unable to breath list
  • Paying a debt to nature

For the Dying: 

  • Not long for this world
  • On their last legs
  • Their numbers up

I am blown away by how many synonyms there are for death. While I enjoy the frivolity of many of these, the fear is lightly veiled. What if we were to celebrate each death as Christianity hopes to, with the story of Jesus; as a rite of passage, recognising transformation will happen after death, and everyone will eventually feel a form of resurrection? Death will change us all, and there will be life after a death for those still drawing breath.

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