Why Do People Use Euphemisms to Talk about Dying?

March 22, 2018

The language around death and dying can become extremely complicated quite quickly and it might not be something that you want to experience when it comes to your senior’s end-of-life battle. Learning more about these euphemisms can help you to determine if you want to outright avoid them or not.


What Are Euphemisms?

Euphemisms are a way to rephrase a topic with language that is less jarring or even offensive. To some people, saying that someone is dying or another language around death is very difficult to do. This is why these types of phrases are so common. Some of the euphemisms you might hear about death could range from the relatively benign “passed away” to phrases such as “didn’t make it” or “kicked the bucket.”


To Hide from What’s Happening

Denial is incredibly powerful, especially when you and other family members are faced with something unpleasant like your elderly family member passing away. Euphemisms can be handy around children when you want to keep language calmer and less frightening, but with adults, these turns of a phrase can serve to help everyone to hide a little bit from what’s really going on.


To Be “Polite”

Many people find it rude to talk about death and dying openly and bluntly. For some folks, using such direct terminology has no place in polite conversation. If you’re trying to avoid upsetting someone whose opinion matters to you, then using euphemisms might be appropriate for those conversations. For your family, though, euphemistic expressions may feel as if you’re avoiding the situation.


Some Euphemisms Are Comforting

If death and dying are a topic that gives some family members anxiety then it makes sense to use terminology that is more comforting, like a euphemism. This is especially the case if the topic is upsetting to the family member who is nearing the end of her life. In some instances, the euphemisms that your elderly family member selects may actually offer a form of spiritual assurance during this difficult time.


Deciding to Avoid Euphemisms

You and your family members may opt to avoid using euphemisms to describe what is going on. It might become necessary to share with some extended family members why you and your senior have made the choices you’ve made as that can make the situation less jarring for people who aren’t ready to hear the situation described without a euphemism.

Talk with your elderly family member and family members about whether you as a group want to use euphemisms or not. Once you’re on the same page, you can let elder care providers and other people who are helping you during this time know what terminology you’ve agreed to use.


If you or a loved-one have questions about Elder Care in West Orange, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Serenity Hospice. Call today, we can help:  (609)-227-2400

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