Friday, September 1, 2017

We love the school my daughter attends (just had orientation for kindergarten today and met a bunch of new parents).  Among other things, we like that it has taught her a whole list of "bad" words that she is not supposed to say or call other people.  And... being a little rule follower she never says them herself, and she also reminds us not to say them.

This was all fine and good until I told her that something had died.  I can't honestly remember what it was, but we may have been talking about a long deceased great grandparent or something.  It was then I learned that "died" was a bad word, at least according to her school.

(I was supposed to say "passed away.")

Ok I get it.  Some people think it's insensitive to say "died" and that "passed away" is more gentle and considerate.  Fine.  But setting aside the fact that we use the word died in all sorts of non-death ways none of which are mean-spirited in the least such as "The car battery died," or "The plant in the garden died," helping people die and their families through the grieving process and dealing with death and dying is part of what I do at my job every single day.  Not talking about death in frank terms feels counterproductive to me, and potentially harmful.

To put it more bluntly: "Died" is not a bad word.  Death is a natural part of life that we should be able to talk about frankly, and using euphemisms for something that happens to everybody does not make the world a better place.  "Died" is not a hate word.  Nor is it a curse word.  Saying, "Grandma died," is not insensitive.

It just is and we should be able to say so.

1 comment:

Revanche said...

I caught myself avoiding the word "died" with our 2 year old the other day and I wondered why that was a reflex when I'd never had it before. It probably came from realizing that our friends didn't tell their son our dog, his companion as a toddler, had died, but rather that he'd "gone somewhere else to live". I compromised by telling JuggerBaby that Doggle had gone away, but I'll have to explain "died" in the next few years.