Let's Talk About Death Honestly...Apr 09, 2023
Here at Grieve Leave, we believe in the power of words (hence the whole blog thing) and we know how important language is when it comes to grief and loss. That’s why we do our best to never use euphemisms for death. Let us explain…
It might seem like using phrases like "passed away" or "lost" is a polite way to soften the blow of death, but we believe that it can actually make things more challenging for those of us who are grieving.
Here's the thing: euphemisms can mask grief. When we over use euphemisms, we're contributing to the stigma surrounding grief. By avoiding direct language, we're perpetuating the idea that grief is something to be ashamed of or talk around. Sometimes this can make it harder for people to talk openly about their emotions and seek support when they need it.
When we use direct language to describe death and dying, we're acknowledging the reality of the situation and the spectrum of grief that comes along with it. We're giving ourselves and others permission to feel the full range of emotions that come with loss. This can help us grieve, instead of hiding our emotions behind a sugar-coated word or phrase that makes others more comfortable.
At Grieve Leave, we believe that in order to grieve, we need to tell it like it is. We need to talk about our grief honestly, using language that acknowledges our reality– as painful and uncomfortable as it may be. When we do this, we create space for ourselves and others to process our emotions and move through the grieving process.
We also know that using direct language about death and dying is particularly important when we are speaking with our young children. If we say “we lost Grandma,” or “Grandma is asleep for a long time,” our kids may very well take that literally. When we speak clearly about death with our kids, using language like “died,” and “dead,” acknowledging its finality, we’ll not only help our children better understand loss, but we can help ourselves acknowledge the reality of the loss, too. Speaking to our kids about our losses helps us grieve.
Here are some common death euphemisms, and how we can get more specific, instead:
- "Passed away" or "passed on": Instead, say "died" or "has died."
- "Lost": Instead, say "died" or "has died."
- "Gone to a better place": Instead, say "died" or "has died."
(Are you seeing a pattern here?)
- “Crossed over”: Instead, say “died “ or “has died.”
- “At peace”: Instead, say “died “ or “has died.”
Euphemisms are pretty good at avoiding the truth of loss, and can make facing our grief all the more difficult– they mask grief and contribute to the stigma and shame surrounding it. Society needs to be more grief-informed, and we can’t move towards that future without using real words and language to describe our losses.
So, let’s ditch the euphemisms and talk about grief honestly– so we can all grieve on.
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