As an adult and Death Doula, I have no qualms with using the words died or dead. Yet, I appreciate that death hits each person differently. In times of bereavement, the words we choose hold great significance in shaping our perception and experience of death. In the African-American community, we traditionally say, that someone passd on or is taken from us. Some others commonly use the phrase "sorry for your loss", or "we lost her/him". However, as Death Doulas, it is our responsibility to transform the dialogue surrounding death and encourage a more empowering perspective. By reimagining our language, we can help individuals and communities embrace dying with the concept of transition and foster a healthier grieving process. Let us delve into the significance of replacing "lost" with "transitioned" or passed on and how it can facilitate profound change.
Departing from negative connotations:
The term "lost" carries connotations of finality and hopelessness. It implies that the person we cherished has vanished indefinitely, leaving behind a void that seems impossible to fill. We often search for lost people. This perception can perpetuate feelings of emptiness and intensify the grieving process. However, by adopting the word transitioned or say they passed on, acknowledges death as a passage into a different state of existence. It suggests that our loved ones have embarked on a new journey, inviting the possibility of forging a unique connection and understanding. We need to promote the use of wording that emphasizes the move from the physical body, without the loss of spirit.
Embracing the notion of continuity:
By employing the term related to transitions, we can emphasize the continuity of our loved ones' existence in an alternate form or realm. It reminds us that although they are no longer present in physical form, their influence, memories, and essence endure. Recognizing this sense of continuity encourages us to engage in a deeper and enduring relationship with the memory of our loved ones.
Cultivating healing and acceptance:
Grief is a complex and deeply personal experience. The language we use has the power to either facilitate healing or hinder the process. When we say someone is "lost," we inadvertently perpetuate a sense of longing, absence, search and recovery. Conversely, using the words transitioned or passed on, enables us to construct a more accepting narrative. It encourages individuals to find solace in the knowledge that their loved ones are not suffering. This shift in perception can facilitate profound healing, offering comfort and fostering acceptance throughout the grieving process.
Encouraging open conversations about death:
Our language shapes our attitudes and perceptions surrounding death. By normalizing the transition or passing on, we can initiate conversations about death and dying that are often stigmatized or avoided in society. As Death Doulas, we hold the responsibility to ignite discussions that promote awareness, acceptance, and understanding. By selecting our words thoughtfully, we create an environment where individuals feel safe to explore their emotions, fears, and hopes related to death, thereby fostering a more empathetic and compassionate society.
As Death Doulas, we possess a unique opportunity to redefine how we approach conversations about death and mourning. By transitioning from "lost" to "transitioned,” or “passing" we empower ourselves and others to embrace the transformative nature of death and find solace in the continuity of love and connection. Let us be catalysts for change in this conversation, nurturing healing, acceptance, and a more compassionate approach to grief. By embracing transitions and passings, we honor the memory of our loved ones and navigate the path of grief with greater resilience and understanding.