Thursday, June 19, 2008

Living with Death

In our Wednesday night class, we are enjoying talking about The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Randy is the Carnegie Mellon prof. who is dying of pancreatic cancer. His speech has been downloaded at least 6 million times and his book about the speech is #1 on many book lists. The fact that he does not talk much about the dreariness of death makes the book easier to read.

People just do not like to talk about death, nor do they even like to read about it. I have been noticing the obits in various papers (Sherlock Holmes called obituaries "agony columns") and the euphemisms used by the obit writer to indicate death: The departed---"left this world to be with the Lord" "departed this earthly life" "stepped into heaven and the arms of the Lord" "nestled into a peaceful rest" "passed away"
and two of the most interesting: "went fishing with the Lord" "left this world for places unknown" !!!!

Writing obituaries falls to the most junior of reporters, and generally they are not works of art--but they are very good at euphemisms.

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