zrs70
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Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:03 am

Ever noticed how often people use euphemisms for "death"? People will say things like:

passed on
passed away
left us
gone
is no longer with us

The worst I heard was: "He expired last night."

For some reason, people have a hard time using the simple word, "death." What's that about?
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LOT767-300ER
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:15 am

People are always uncomfortable with things that are natural or think that by using a word or saying something someone will be hurt when in reality one has to do with another about as much as White Castle has in common with Whole Foods.

Example:
Co-worker was out of work the other day and I jokingly said "Hes probably got cancer" and someone said "You shouldn't say that" WTF? Do I have voodoo powers that I can usher cancer out of nowhere...people are stupid.
 
Quokka
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:50 am

Perhaps it reminds them of the fact that their own life is transitory. Today we are living and tomorrow we are dead. People often fear that which they don't know or understand and whole religions are based on the notion of life after death.

It is also funny how people say that they are going to the "bathroom" when the room they are going to does not actually have a bathtub.
 
zrs70
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:54 am

Quoting LOT767-300ER (Reply 1):
o-worker was out of work the other day and I jokingly said "Hes probably got cancer" and someone said "You shouldn't say that" WTF? Do I have voodoo powers that I can usher cancer out of nowhere...people are stupid.

That was pretty dumb of you. Not because of voodoo powers, but because of blatant stupidity. There are so many people with cancer, and it is no joking matter.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:02 am

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 3):

That was pretty dumb of you. Not because of voodoo powers, but because of blatant stupidity. There are so many people with cancer, and it is no joking matter.

So what if there are many people dying of cancer? Many people died of bubonic plague but if you said "He probably came down with the black plague" people would laugh. Its all relative and it all has absolutely no influence on the final outcome.
 
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:08 am

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 3):
That was pretty dumb of you. Not because of voodoo powers, but because of blatant stupidity. There are so many people with cancer, and it is no joking matter.

There are also many people who are dead. Should we not say "dead"?
There are also many people who are stupid. Should we not call things "stupid"?

You could go on and on. Pretty much anything you say is bound to offend somebody, somewhere.

Example: my mom died of cancer many years ago. But I'm offended neither by "your mom" jokes nor by cancer jokes. I see no point in being offended. Someone making a joke has nothing to do with my personal experiences.

Obviously I'm not going to joke around about cancer to someone whose mom just died from it. But I think people would do well to understand that most of those sort of comments are not intended to be personal, and not be so quick to get offended.

Quoting zrs70 (Thread starter):

For some reason, people have a hard time using the simple word, "death." What's that about?

I have no idea. Death is a part of life, as they say. Just like many other things we make fun of or discuss in a joking manner.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:33 am

These are just simply euphemisms. It's a silly example, but I think it illustrates the point... it's much more polite to say "I need to use the restroom" than to say "I have to take a piss."

The goal here is to be polite as well, especially for someone that's grieving a loved one.

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 3):
Quoting LOT767-300ER (Reply 1):
o-worker was out of work the other day and I jokingly said "Hes probably got cancer" and someone said "You shouldn't say that" WTF? Do I have voodoo powers that I can usher cancer out of nowhere...people are stupid.

That was pretty dumb of you. Not because of voodoo powers, but because of blatant stupidity. There are so many people with cancer, and it is no joking matter.

   Sorry, but I don't see the humor in a co-worker getting cancer. Based on the reaction of the person you were talking to, I'd say you probably crossed the line.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:45 am

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 3):
That was pretty dumb of you. Not because of voodoo powers, but because of blatant stupidity. There are so many people with cancer, and it is no joking matter.

Dude lighten up, if that offends you, you should stay away from anyone the deals with Emergency Medicine. We use "gallows humor " quite often, it is part of lightening up the baggage you carry around with you, from seeing dead and dying people. I have had to watch myself several times, because you have to understand, that people do not understand where you are coming from.

Several of my friends have asked me through the years, "how do you deal with seeing all these dead people, doesn't it bother you"? In 17+ yrs I have seen just about every way a person can die, and it is nothing to brag about. To say I do not carry some baggaage around would be a lie, we all have had those ones we will never forget. I am proud to say I have never had to turn to the bottle or do drugs to surpress it, I have just learned my way to deal with it, and move on.

I think the hardest pill I had to swallow early on, was the realization that one day you are going to die, and it will not always be when you are 80 y/o and in your sleep.
Stay Safe!

[Edited 2010-10-21 00:48:18]
 
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:56 am

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 3):
Quoting LOT767-300ER (Reply 1):
o-worker was out of work the other day and I jokingly said "Hes probably got cancer" and someone said "You shouldn't say that" WTF? Do I have voodoo powers that I can usher cancer out of nowhere...people are stupid.

That was pretty dumb of you. Not because of voodoo powers, but because of blatant stupidity

I'd call it insensitive. Joking that someone who has a minor bug has "cancer" really trivializes and marginalizes cancer, a truly debilitating, life-changing event for the afflicted and their families. I remember watching those who have fought battles with cancer and lost, and seen those who have fought and won. Their battles certainly didn't compare to skipping work for a day. So I'd call it immature and in poor taste. It doesn't offend me, per se, but it tells me a lot about you.

Quoting Quokka (Reply 2):
Perhaps it reminds them of the fact that their own life is transitory. Today we are living and tomorrow we are dead. People often fear that which they don't know or understand and whole religions are based on the notion of life after death.

   Euphemisms, by definition, "ease you in" to a certain fact. Letting your brain make the connection that "passed away"="death" softens the blow somewhat.

It's rather like this: Saying "I need to poop and pee" makes most people at least uncomfortable. Saying "I need to use the restroom" gets the point across, but is much more PC. Things are generally "socially acceptable" for a reason.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:05 am

The only way to talk about death:

" 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!! "

Courtesy of Messrs Palin & Cleese, with the assistance of the "demised" Mr Chapman.

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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:33 pm

I personally don't see a problem with it.

If somebody is dead - then they're dead. No point to beating around the bush because people know what you mean.
 
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:26 pm

I remember once seeing a friend who looked horrible. I jokingly said, "boy, you look like your mom just died." He looked at me and said, "She did." I felt pretty stupid after that, and I have made sure never to make jokes having to do with those kinds of things.

Can you imagine if you substituted "cancer" with "AIDS"? Would any of us say, "oh, he probably contracted AIDS?"
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 2:19 pm

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 11):
Can you imagine if you substituted "cancer" with "AIDS"? Would any of us say, "oh, he probably contracted AIDS?"

I hear that a lot actually. People need to stop being so sensitive. There are bigger problems in life to deal with that misinterpreting someone's joke
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 2:22 pm

Quoting JBirdAV8r (Reply 8):

Euphemisms, by definition, "ease you in" to a certain fact. Letting your brain make the connection that "passed away"="death" softens the blow somewhat.

It's rather like this: Saying "I need to poop and pee" makes most people at least uncomfortable. Saying "I need to use the restroom" gets the point across, but is much more PC. Things are generally "socially acceptable" for a reason.

   It would be great if people could deal with reality without going atwitter with angst. But as a society, we try to insulate ourselves from the various not-so-nice realities of life.

My mother died of lymphoma when I was 8 years old. I remember my dad clearly telling me that she had passed on. I understood that initially that she passed a test of some kind. He then had to say it again and used the word "died". So my dad wanting to spare my initial burst of grief, instead merely postponed it. Do I blame him for trying to soften the blow? Absolutely not.

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 5):
Example: my mom died of cancer many years ago. But I'm offended neither by "your mom" jokes nor by cancer jokes. I see no point in being offended. Someone making a joke has nothing to do with my personal experiences.

Obviously I'm not going to joke around about cancer to someone whose mom just died from it. But I think people would do well to understand that most of those sort of comments are not intended to be personal, and not be so quick to get offended.

   I don't know many cancer jokes but I do love a good Yo Momma joke.

However, I don't know if I would have been laughing at a Yo Momma joke in the first few years after my mom passed away. Grief is an unusual thing; it can manifest itself in many varied situations. It's also very personal; its not a shared experience. You could argue that a group of people who lost a close relative would be having a shared grief but IMO, it's several individual griefs with the only shared characteristic of the close relative.

Say you have a friend you know who had a person close to them die. You could be absolutely correct in telling them "I'm sorry that died. That sucks." If it was immediately after the death, you might see that friend act out on you:   "YOU'RE SORRY! THAT'S GREAT! I'M GLAD YOUR SORRY!" If you said, instead, "I'm sorry that passed away. They were very special.", There's still a possibility they'll act out but I think it'd be more remote. Instead you're more likely to get a tacit confirmation that they heard you. "Thank you. Gertie was very special." They might still act out but I think the probabiltiy of that is greatly reduced.

As I said, Grief is a very personal and individual thing. Most people don't want to be come involved in someone else's grief experience. So by not using a euphemism, you risk being drawn into that unpleasant experience. The euphemisms of death maybe a "cop-out" but one that does serve a useful, if somewhat selfish, purpose.

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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:04 pm

People are too coddled these days and can't handle any bad news.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:33 pm

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 11):
Can you imagine if you substituted "cancer" with "AIDS"? Would any of us say, "oh, he probably contracted AIDS?"

I see no difference there.

I laughed my ass off at that South Park episode with Jared from the Subway commercials, which was all about AIDS.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:59 pm

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 15):
I laughed my ass off at that South Park episode

Enough said! When South Park is quoted, I better understand who I am talking with!
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:07 pm

I personally hate using the word 'dead' as in so and so is dead. I remember when my grandmother died I'd always refer to her as passed away. Dead sounds so impersonal and final to me when I hear it.
 
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:13 pm

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 11):
I remember once seeing a friend who looked horrible. I jokingly said, "boy, you look like your mom just died." He looked at me and said, "She did." I felt pretty stupid after that, and I have made sure never to make jokes having to do with those kinds of things.

Eh. Same here... A co-worker called into work and she sounded so horrible on the phone that I could barely understand her. I went on to say, "You sound like someone died!". She proceeded to say that her best friend just tragically died and she couldn't come into work. Turns out that me not being able to hear her was because she was sobbing. Not a good memory for me.

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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:41 pm

Quoting GQfluffy (Reply 14):
People are too coddled these days and can't handle any bad news.

Or some of us just don't like notions of fatalism as they apply to our own lives, thank you very much.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:06 pm

Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 19):
Or some of us just don't like notions of fatalism as they apply to our own lives, thank you very much.

Reality sucks, but tomorrow is just a day away. Live life without worry of death, and it's one less stress on life. Why is that so difficult?
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:06 pm

I don't think using "passed away" or similar in place of "died" has much to do with being uncomfortable with the word "die" or with death in general. For many people, it's just the way they prefer or are used to discussing that topic.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:23 pm

Quoting GQfluffy (Reply 20):
Reality sucks, but tomorrow is just a day away. Live life without worry of death, and it's one less stress on life. Why is that so difficult?

Because it's natural to be worried about it. If we weren't, there wouldn't be writings on the subject going all the way back through human history, nor a trillions of dollars large worldwide medical industry.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:33 pm

Quoting zrs70 (Thread starter):
For some reason, people have a hard time using the simple word, "death." What's that about?

It has to deal with the English language.
In French "Il est mort" he died - is very common - this is what we say all the time.
We don't use things like "he passed away" or the like.
We just say "he/she died".
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:38 pm

Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 23):
It has to deal with the English language.
In French "Il est mort" he died - is very common - this is what we say all the time.
We don't use things like "he passed away" or the like.
We just say "he/she died".

Not only English - Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Hindi are all examples of major languages that have numerous euphemisms for death in common use.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:57 pm

One of my favorite comediennes on the subject:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YFRUSTiFUs
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:31 pm

Because we believe that our loved ones are not dead, but living in heaven. Therefore, death doesn´t exist in some way.
 
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:52 am

Quoting directorguy (Reply 17):
I personally hate using the word 'dead' as in so and so is dead. I remember when my grandmother died I'd always refer to her as passed away. Dead sounds so impersonal and final to me when I hear it.

I am with you, I try to be gentle about it when someones passing is mentioned. Is it respect, concern for the family? I think so. I also use, dieing, die, died. I have been known to say "Kicked the bucket", about people I do not respect.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:37 am

This is proof political correctness is getting waaaay out of hand.

People die. Period.

My grandpa died. My grandma died. A girl I went to class with in middle school killed herself. And another one died in an accident.

I did not flinch, cringe, or squirm once typing/saying that. People seriously need to get a grip these days.  
Quoting zrs70 (Reply 11):
I remember once seeing a friend who looked horrible.

Well if looking horrible isn't a huge enough clue to you that something is in fact wrong and then in that case it may in fact be tasteless to actually make such a remark, then I dunno what is         
 
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:52 am

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 28):
This is proof political correctness is getting waaaay out of hand.


People have been using euphemisms for death for far longer than the "term" PC has been around. Of course PC has always been around, just the "term" is new. In Australia it used to be PC to worry about the "yellow peril" and to defend the White Australia policy. It was also PC that the children of Aborigines should be removed from their families, only it wasn't called PC. The term PC was invented by conservatives to lament their values being replaced by different ones.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 25):
my favorite comediennes


Good post, Doc. That is really funny.
 
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:31 am

There's a whole routine by George Carlin about Euphemisms - it's hilarious.... I go out of my way to use the most direct language I can now cos I'm sick of it too...
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:35 pm

No problem for us, beside of "der" and "das", we Germans use the word "die" hundreds of times, every day.  

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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:44 pm

Quoting AlexEU (Reply 26):
Because we believe that our loved ones are not dead, but living in heaven. Therefore, death doesn´t exist in some way.

I think you hit the nail on the head, at least for me personally. I don't use the word 'dead' because I'm a religious person - I believe in life after 'death'.

However, it has become a common euphemism in many languages, but I would hazard a guess that it spawned from people that believe in 'life after death' because the word 'death' has a certain ring of finality about it, and I think a lot of people have trouble adjusting to such a sudden and permanent change in their lives.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:21 pm

Quoting CXB77L (Reply 32):
I don't use the word 'dead' because I'm a religious person - I believe in life after 'death'.

I am a rabbi, and most clergy I know are very specific about using the word "death." I am very particular when I talk to younger children when they ask about it. I will never say, "Grandma went to sleep." Or, "Aunt Sarah went away." A child might be afraid of going to bed after that.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:16 pm

i'm not afraid of dying, i don't know how i'd feel at the moment, but i'm prepared for death because i don't believe in it. i think it's just getting out of one car and getting into another - john lennon
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:56 pm

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 16):
Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 15):
I laughed my ass off at that South Park episode

Enough said! When South Park is quoted, I better understand who I am talking with!

Well feel free to fill me in on who I am!

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 33):
I am very particular when I talk to younger children when they ask about it. I will never say, "Grandma went to sleep." Or, "Aunt Sarah went away." A child might be afraid of going to bed after that.

I personally believe that it's probably best to just be as honest as you can with kids. But take that with a grain of salt, since I don't have kids yet.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:17 pm

For me, death is a fact of life, and nothing more. It happens every moment of every day, and has done for thousands of years, and will continue to do so. I see no point in walking on eggshells with such a topic, its going to happen to us and everyone we know at some point or another.

Quoting Mudboy (Reply 7):
Dude lighten up, if that offends you, you should stay away from anyone the deals with Emergency Medicine. We use "gallows humor " quite often, it is part of lightening up the baggage you carry around with you, from seeing dead and dying people. I have had to watch myself several times, because you have to understand, that people do not understand where you are coming from.

Gallows Humour helps a lot, I have a couple of potentially life threatening health problems, that will undoubtedly curb my life expectancy by about 15 years. I have accepted it, and I understand that death is just a fact of life. I make jokes about my illnesses all the time, it helps me and those around me deal with it on a daily basis. It does make my friends and family cringe at times, but they've gotten used to it and laugh too. When I am at the clinic or hospital, I always make the nurses and doctors laugh with jokes of questionable taste and appropriateness, and when they see me making light of what would normally be a very serious problem, they appreciate it too and often join in. I've informed my family that nobody is allowed to cry when I die, they should all get drunk and have a kick ass party in my honour hehe.

Cheers

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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:16 am

Quoting Quokka (Reply 29):

Good post, Doc. That is really funny.

Thanks. Her accent alone is enough to make you piss your pants!
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:02 am

Quoting CXB77L (Reply 32):
However, it has become a common euphemism in many languages, but I would hazard a guess that it spawned from people that believe in 'life after death' because the word 'death' has a certain ring of finality about it, and I think a lot of people have trouble adjusting to such a sudden and permanent change in their lives.

Yes, people who believe the soul is merely in "transition" do not think of referring to "death" which to them inferrs the end---nothing. So we have passed-away, crossed-over, niftar, passed, etc.
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:49 am

Quoting aerorobnz (Reply 30):
There's a whole routine by George Carlin about Euphemisms - it's hilarious.... I go out of my way to use the most direct language I can now cos I'm sick of it too...

I remember his routine about how all of our curse words were words that refered to things that were part of nature: defecating and having sex. And thinking of that just made me realize- every living organism does the same thing: it is born, it eats, it processess food, it makes waste (usually through defecation), it reproduces (often sexually), and it dies. But of all of those things, we're not allowed to talk about any of them, except eating (and to a small extent, digestion)!
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cws818
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:43 am

Quoting LOT767-300ER (Reply 1):
Example:
Co-worker was out of work the other day and I jokingly said "Hes probably got cancer" and someone said "You shouldn't say that" WTF? Do I have voodoo powers that I can usher cancer out of nowhere...people are stupid.

I doubt, as you seem to do, that you possess voodoo powers. However, I think that it is pretty clear that your remark - even though intended as a joke - was in poor taste. You were obviously NOT wishing cancer on your co-worker, but your comment was ill advised. Then again, everyone has put his foot in his mouth at least once.
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richm
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:05 pm

Quoting zrs70 (Thread starter):
Ever noticed how often people use euphemisms for "death"? People will say things like:

passed on
passed away
left us
gone
is no longer with us

The worst I heard was: "He expired last night."

For some reason, people have a hard time using the simple word, "death." What's that about?

It's interesting that you brought this up. I went to a funeral a week ago and I remember commenting on the use of the word "died". While it is an accurate term, I think it's a little blunt. Especially when someone is referring to a family member or loved one. "Passed away" is a much more subtle and gentle way of putting it. Perhaps it's a subjective matter.

Rich

[Edited 2010-10-26 10:07:48]
 
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RE: Why Are People Uncomfortable Using The Word "die"?

Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:26 pm

Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 23):
In French "Il est mort" he died - is very common - this is what we say all the time.

French is only my 4th language, but when important French speaking people died like Mitterand or Hergé I bought or checked French newspapers, they always write, 'Hergé décède' instead of 'est mort'. I think 'déceder' has the same eufemistic meaning as passed away etc.

In Dutch there is one stupid eufemism which is something like 'he slept in' which is told to children if a grandparent dies, but works counterproductive as it makes them scared about sleeping instead.
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