Thoughts on the Language of Death.

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I have reached that time of life where the greatest numbers of social invitations are to funerals rather than parties. This year has been very busy sometimes two per week.
This got me thinking about the language around death.
“Passing, passed away, passed-on, and passed over” these all sound to me like discarded in fact the last two could easily pertain to advancement in any part of a life.
“Natural death, easy death, quiet end” what would an unnatural death entail dying without consultation with a doctor? Hence the money spinning death certificate business within the medical community, one certificate we will all attain irrespective of the quality and wealth of our life.
“Easy death” a death not hard to reach or one lacking obstruction I wonder? Surely no death is easy if you are in anyway aware of it. Euthanasia is perhaps the easy death though in the UK it is a politically hot subject at the moment.
“Quiet end” this one appeals to me if its the one where you go to bed and never have to get up again knowing nothing of what happened.

The more euphoric sentences such as “release, happy release, welcome end, swan song”.
“Release” surely implies we have done something wrong and the punishment was to be born and live a life. Punishing for some but not for others it would seem. Also would that mean those dying young are on shorter sentences or have been approved for early parole.
“Happy release” surely all releases are happy whether from life, jail or intestines.
“Welcome end” I’ve been to a few of these already concerts, plays and football matches. So bad you can’t wait for them to end. (To avoid the welcome end you could always walk out.)
“Swan song” a final gesture before death. This is ridiculous even Pliny the Elder had refuted in the days of ancient Rome that swans mute or otherwise are not more inclined to sing before death.
It seems to have lived on in the arts though with many writers eluding to it.
More recently with performance artists doing farewell tours or performances. For these I would pick Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “On a Volunteer Singer”
Swans sing before they die; ’twere no bad thing
Did certain persons die before they sing.

“Gone to a better place” I have yet to meet anyone who has visited heaven, hell or oblivion. How can you form an opinion as to the benefits of an unknown zone?

Not yet a grumpy oldman. Oldsputnick.
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4 Responses to Thoughts on the Language of Death.

  1. eastraveller says:

    I’ve often thought the language of funerals deserves recognition as a genre. Just like that of christenings and weddings.
    “Peacefully” and “quietly” top the list of adverbs, “to pass” is the no 1 verb and “beloved” the leading adjective.
    I wonder if the emphasis on quietness is our need of assurance that there was nothing violent, loud, reluctant or angry about the “passing”.

  2. “Quiet end” is the one that appeals to me too. No end would be preferable, but I guess that’s not going to happen. Great post – glad you’re back! Hope you have no more funerals to attend this year!

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