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What's Wrong With "died" And "dead"?


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Just have to complain a little about the aversion most people seem to have developed over the use of the two words in the header: "died" and "dead." Seems to me that any time someone mentions the fact that someone died, he or she says, "passed." Passed what? Gas? A kidney stone?

 

Just recently it even crept into our local newspaper, which is actually a major metro daily. A feature story mentioned someone who was dead and the journalist, who you'd think would know better, wrote, "passed." He's DEAD, damn it! And what he did to get there is called "dying" and as he did it, he DIED.

 

If folks think they are somehow easing the pain of those who are still alive, they're not. They're just insulting the intelligence of folks who aren't afraid to face the realities of life.

 

Grumble, grumble.

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Have you seen The Messenger staring Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson? I ask because your post is very similar to some of the dialog. I recommend the movie. It's about the great loss families and friends experience when our solders die on the battlefield.

 

 

MM

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Now that I think about it what word or phrase appeared in the headlines when Bin Laden was killed? Maybe it's a double standard. When it was someone who was well liked we use a gentle euphemism. When it was someone notorious we are blunt.

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Most people aren't comfortable without a belief that we somehow survive physical death, hence the popularity of "passed" rather than the finality implied in "dead."

 

Accepting reality in plain terms is not a strength of the human animal. Among other conventions, language is used to find a way to buffer some of the unpleasantness of our random universe.

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