Fears & Confidence – fear of death and death words


There is a common fear of death and death words.

There is a common fear of death and death words.

Any of us who regularly perform funerals or are of a certain age, have been to many funerals and as Celebrants we may consciously or even unconsciously, privately critique the Celebrant & Ceremony; and whatever is perceived, is likely influence our own performance. It is simply a part of personal development and personally I watch videos of all my own Ceremonies and have to admit that I am my own worst critic, always seeking to improve.

The thought in watching a ceremony may be complimentary such as “I liked how that was said/done” and when next writing a Ceremony, you might possibly be influenced in a positive way to ‘tweak’ your ceremony.

It may be derogatory: “That was appalling, I never/will never do that (again) in My Ceremonies”.

Or it may be a simple “oh, that was interesting/boring/uneventful/very routine” etc. and whatever it was, may be quickly forgotten.

There is one part that usually catches my eye and that is how the Ceremony is ended. In a Church service there is always a ‘recessional’ and people know when to leave but in a Civil Service, there is a ‘Committal’ and then……well that varies. I saw one recently where the Celebrant closed the curtains in a crem chapel, said a few words, and then began to pack up. I looked at the gathered and saw they were confused, and some were whispering to others who were shrugging shoulders completely bewildered as to whether the ceremony had concluded or not. Since then, I make certain that I give clear instructions “this concludes this ceremony, please follow the family as they leave the chapel and then….”. It is simple, polite and direct.

The other area of confusion is the fear of words such as coffin and death.

A Coffin is simply a box or chest for burying remains and so is a generic term for any funerary box. A Casket is more or less a four-sided coffin but perhaps because the word ‘coffin is associated only with death; many prefer to use the word ‘Casket’  just to avoid the use of the word ‘coffin’.

The greater avoidance though by many in the emergency services, medical profession, welfare industry and of course the funeral industry, is any finite words such as dead, or died. Few will ever say in a funeral service or eulogy that “Mr Jones died at/by …..”. This may be because there is no point to stating the obvious and referring to the cause, manner or time of death as it may not be purposeful but when there is a need to mention such, few use the direct words and instead resort to euphemisms.

It comes down to confidence. A confident Celebrant will use words with certainty and in so doing will generate confidence in those gathered and in so doing will assist in the grief process.

 I have listed a few euphemisms for death but what others do you use or have heard?:

Alive no more Bit the bullet Bit the Dust
Bought the farm Carked it Ceased
Ceased to be Ceased to exist Come to an end
Conked it Croaked Crossed the river
Departed Did not recover Died
Drew the final curtain Ended Entered another plain/realm
euthanised Expired failed to survive
Gave up the ghost Gone Gone to a better place
Gone to God Gone to meet his/her maker Gone to that (place) in the sky
Is no more journeyed into another realm Kicked the bucket
Killed/murdered Left us Lost
Moved on Moved to heaven Now at peace/rest
Paid the ultimate price Passed Passed away
Passed on Perished Pushing up daisies
Re-joined the universe Removed from this earth Sacrificed
Snuffed out Stopped living Succumbed
Terminated The big sleep Took a last breath
Took the final journey travelled on Was taken from us


Friendly, helpful, FUN, professional Celebrant with a difference

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