“He has set eternity in the hearts of men.”

-Ecclesiastes 3:11

A EUPHEMISM IS DEFINED in the dictionary as “an expression which substitutes for one considered too harsh, blunt, or offensive.” Death has many euphemisms. Here are some interesting ones: pushing up daisies, kicked the bucket, launched into eternity, bit the dust, kicked the oxygen habit, bought the farm (I suppose that actually buying one is a death sentence), met the Maker, cashed in the chips, bit the big one, caught the Big Anvil (for you Roadrunner fans), moved into upper management, went to that final resting place, basted the formaldehyde turkey (I have no idea what this means), took the big jump, answered the last call (which is ironic since “answered” makes it seem like we have an option), checked out, a negative patient care outcome (for you medical folks), found the happy hunting ground, “Number’s up,” picked up the harp, shed the mortal coil, the final curtains, taken out of production, the end of the line, fed the fishes, went to the last roundup, immortally challenged, and worm food. We use these euphemisms because nobody really likes talking about death.

And let’s face it—even Christians, who may have strong convictions that the joys of heaven awaits them, don’t like talking about meeting the Grim Reaper. Personally, there are one thousand other topics that I would rather talk about—methods, for instance, of cleaning the toilet, the best English romance films of the 20th century, new federal tax laws, and my favorite fluoride toothpastes. There’s nothing particularly distressing or depressing about discussing my kicking the bucket. I’m absolutely convinced that I will be much happier in heaven. But discussing how I will physically croak does not sound like something I want to chat about next to a cozy fire while snuggling with my wife.

Last year, while my wife and I were enjoying a romantic evening next to a nice fire, she said, “We need to write our will.” It was something that I had been putting off for a while. I tried to change the topic to British “chick-flicks,” but she redirected the conversation back to the will. The conversation went something like this:

“When are we going to write our will?” she said.

“I dunno… This is a nice fire. Do you want some marshmallows?”

“No! I want to write a will so that our children are provided for in the unfortunate chance that we both simultaneously die or that you have a massive heart attack because you are eating too many marshmallows.”

“These really are good marshmallows! You should try one.”

That remark was then followed by an awkward silence as my wife briefly contemplated her initial decision to marry me.

“I’m making an appointment with the Estate Lawyer tomorrow to write up our will. You will be there!”

“Yes Dear,” I said as I stuffed a large marshmallow in my mouth.

Actually, meeting with the Estate Lawyer wasn’t that bad. The whole process didn’t take very long. Of course, the amount of time it takes to complete a will is probably directly related to the amount of money one has saved up. Anyway, the will is done. And I’m glad. Not only are the care of my children planned for, but I now get to sit next to a warm, glowing fire and enjoy some marshmallows in peace!

That is, until my wife decides that it’s time for me to buy more life insurance…

My STAR TREK euphemisms for death:

  • His dilithium crystals discharged for the last time!
  • Boldly going… And never coming back!
  • I’m a doctor, Jim! Not a mortician!
  • He told that Klingon that his mother was the unholy spawn of a Vulcan.
  • Went to Deep Space 9. 
  • There was a 0.0000001% temporal variance in the transporter’s primary induction array.
  • He’s on the Away Team… and he has no last name!
  • He’s on permanent “halodeck leave.”
  • He thought his phaser was a tricorder.
  • He thought his tricorder was a phaser.
  • Engage Warp Factor ZERO!
  • Doing the Vulcan Mind Meld…  with Jimmy Holfa!
  • Got “beamed up!”


It Is Well With My Soul