I was recently having a conversation with someone where I referenced my daughter and used the line; “before Miss Elliott was dead…”. I instantly recoiled at the chastening sound of my words and began to feel as though I should apologize for not using a euphemism like the word passed instead, as society has taught us all to do in order to act mannerly. Other than perhaps catching her a little off guard with my bluntness, I don’t think the person I was with minded at all. And then I was annoyed at myself.
In a situation like this why would I let the feelings of others (even those only perceived or imagined) make me feel guilty over my word choice? Was she any less living? As if to say she had passed and was not just dead would somehow be kinder or less emotionally charged for the person hearing the words? No matter how I put it, I still have a dead daughter.
We all use euphemisms from time to time either out of respect to those we are speaking to or to gird our own feelings, but when should we refrain? When should we realize that to use them actually downplays the significance or magnitude of the event and that we should instead just spell it out frankly? Give it the credence it deserves. Does not a dead child demand such an overture?
Be thoughtful, but also be bold. Don’t shrink away from the intensity of the situation just because it makes you uncomfortable. Recognize it. Respect it. Embrace it. Show those whom you are speaking to that you understand the level of importance this event holds in their life and honor it with your words.