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Ways to Say Someone Has Died

Updated on February 24, 2019
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

There is one thing that everybody has in common. No matter how young or old, male or female, rich or poor, everyone will eventually die when their time comes.

When someone dies, those who are left behind must be given the news. Family members and friends could be told about the death of their loved one in a way that could be harmful or helpful to the grieving process.

So, how should a person announce someone's death? Different expressions can be used depending on who you are telling and the circumstances surrounding the death. Sometimes a euphemism is used. Sometimes a traditional saying is conveyed, and sometimes a slang term is used.

Euphemisms for Death, Dead, Died, and Dying

A euphemism is a figure of speech that indicates a more pleasant way of saying something. A euphemism is a literary device used to get the message across without using harsh words.

When it comes to announcing a death, some people are at a loss for words. Then when they do speak, the wrong things come out of their mouth. It is at those times that a euphemism would be more appropriate and appreciative.

Let's look at some euphemisms for"death," "dead," "died" and "dying."

Popular Euphemisms for Death, Dead, Died, and Dying

There are harsh words and gentle words when referring to things related to death. Even so, different cultures, locations, and religious beliefs have a lot to do with what a person says.

Take a look at the following expressions and recall what you have said or what has been said to you.

General Expressions

  • Passed
  • Passed on
  • Passed away
  • Demise
  • Deceased
  • Departed
  • Gone
  • Slipped away
  • Lost her battle
  • Lost his life
  • Succumbed
  • Sorry for your loss
  • Time has come
  • Taken too soon
  • Out of his misery

Bible Terms and Religious Beliefs

  • Fell asleep
  • Gave up the ghost
  • Didn't make it
  • Breathed her last breath
  • Gone from labor to reward
  • Resting in peace
  • Gone to eternal rest
  • Went to be with the Lord
  • The Lord took her home
  • In the arms of God
  • Went to heaven
  • Met his Maker
  • Was called home
  • In a better place
  • Has crossed over
  • Sleeping with the angels

Slang Terms

  • Kicked the bucket
  • Pushing up daisies
  • Belly up
  • Croaked
  • Checked out
  • Dead as a doornail
  • Bit the dust
  • Is six feet under

Reasons to Use Euphemisms

  • Euphemisms for death and dying are used to help soften the blow. Euphemisms are gentle ways to provide comfort in difficult situations.
  • A more pleasant expression is used in place of being too direct that might appeal rude, blunt and insensitive.
  • When a euphemism is used, discomfort is eliminated on the part of the giver and receiver of the news.
  • Euphemisms about being with the Lord is a great comfort to those who believe in God and life after death. It is a reminder of God's sovereignty in the midst of death.

When You Should Not Use Euphemisms

It is usually not recommended to use euphemisms when speaking to children about death. This might confuse the child to hear that a parent is lost, asleep, expired or in the arms of God, or went home. Counselors and other experts recommend using direct language when discussing death with children.

The words death, dead, and dying should be used instead of euphemisms when there might be a language barrier that could hinder understanding and cause confusion. Slang expressions, jokes, and clich├ęs should be avoided. Death is no joking matter.

From Personal Experience

When my oldest brother was taken to the hospital and later died, I was called on the telephone and told by one sister, "He didn't make it." The same thing happened when my youngest brother died several years later and another sister called me from the hospital with the identical words, "He didn't make it."

Once I called a nursing home in upstate New York to check on a friend and was told that the friend had expired. I know milk, bread, and other foods have an expiration date, but I had never thought about people expiring until then.

I never refer to the death of someone as a loss because during my father's eulogy, the pastor said when you know where someone is, he is never lost.

As an ordained minister, I have preached many funerals and delivered many eulogies. I am careful with the expressions I use because of the impact they might leave on the grieving families.

Have you heard or used some of the euphemisms for death listed in this article?

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