The d word

This post is about death, in particular of close family members. If this subject is triggering to you, please don’t read today. Come back next week where I’ll be talking about travel or expat life or something altogether more cheerful.

My Dad died a two years ago this weekend (in a cruel twist the anniversary of his death falls on Fathers Day here). But what I want to write about today is that when I am talking about this fact, I struggle to know what terminology to use.

I often say he passed away, because in the moment that’s really what it felt most like. However, I’m usually a proponent of saying what you mean, and using the right words for things. So this feels a bit too much of a delicate euphemism to me. 

I am also not a fan of when people say “we lost him”. No, we did not accidentally mislay my Dad in a crowded supermarket and he has yet to find his way home again. It was not a careless oversight. We, and the doctors, did everything we could to keep him with us. No, we did not lose my Dad.

My Daddy and I. Just popping down the shops.

I also don’t want people to think he is an absent father who is ‘no longer around’. That’s a disservice to the great man he was and the brilliant Daddy I was lucky enough to have for 29 years of my life – plenty of people don’t have that privilege. I don’t want anyone to have the wrong idea of him, even people I’ll never meet again, even people who couldn’t care less what kind of a person my father was.

So, I should probably just refer to my Dad’s death. Saying, when my Dad died, or my Dad is dead. The problem I have with that is that it often feels very jarring and I really can’t bring myself to say those words. They actually won’t come out of my mouth. It’s too painful. 

So what words can I say? I don’t like passed away as it’s too euphemistic. Using the d-word is too jarring. And I refuse to talk about losing someone. Does anyone else struggle with this? If so, what do you say? And can I borrow it?




  1. Jen
    1st September 2017 / 13:39

    I completely understand this. Any time I talk about my Mom’s passing, I say “we lost her several years ago”. It has the least amount of emotional impact and I’m able to say it, even though it still hurts tremendously. Sending lots of love your way!

  2. 1st September 2017 / 19:47

    This was such a sad yet joyous and beautiful post, Rachel. I have no words for you as I have never been in your position.

    Maybe ‘Dad is no longer with us’ or ‘Dad passed away’. Neither are adequate to quantify your loss but they seem to phrases I hear that when said cause the least distressed to those say them.

    Much love especially for this coming weekend and its meaning to you.

    SSG xxx

  3. 1st September 2017 / 20:57

    It is hard to know what to say, isn’t it? I vote for passed away. I know Father’s Days are never easy in this situation, so just know that I will be thinking about and praying for you on Sunday. It’s a bittersweet day over at our place too. 🙂

  4. 1st September 2017 / 23:45

    oh my sweet friend i’m so sorry 🙁 i don’t have any advice or other words to give you. one can only describe it as they feel it. and i totally agree with you on the initial points. passing away, losing them. it doesn’t make sense. but i guess it’s what everyone chooses to use in order to make their situation a little easier i suppose. at any rate, i’m sending all the love!

    xoxo cheshire kat

  5. 2nd September 2017 / 00:40

    Oh Rachel this post is beautiful but broke my heart. I don’t really have any advice… it probably gets easier with time. It’s easier for me to talk about my grandparents’ “death” (15 years ago) but when I talk about my best friend’s dad, it’s that he “passed away” a few months ago. One term will feel more right than others in the moment, but each moment will be different. Sending you lots of love.

  6. 2nd September 2017 / 00:51

    I honestly have no idea what words or phrase to use because I don’t think that anything is ever going to feel right. I’m sorry that his the anniversary of his death is on Father’s Day this year. It can definitely open up old wounds, but maybe focusing on all of the wonderful memories you have with your dad will help with the pain.

  7. 3rd September 2017 / 07:10

    This is a beautifully written post. I don’t know about the wording either but I am sure the right ones will come to you. Lots of love <3

  8. 3rd September 2017 / 16:19

    Oh girl, I am so sorry that Father’s Day falls on such a painful day for you this year. Death is so hard to deal with and we all deal with it in our own ways – so I really don’t think there is a right term; just what feels right for you.

  9. 4th September 2017 / 01:29

    Okay… so let’s start here – I love that photo of you and your dad. He has such a sweet presence about him. I’m sorry that he’s no longer here.

    I don’t really know what to say to people either. My “real” dad died when I was 10, and my (equally as incredible and “real”) step-dad died two years ago in November. I struggle with the verbiage, too (as evidenced by my “real” comments; I hate the term “step” because of it’s negative connotation.). When I was a child, an even younger child would tell me “but your dad’s dead” every time I told a story about him, so that’s haunted me…. though I suppose saying that is the first way to accept that he’s no longer here with me (something I struggle with).

    Mostly I say that he passed away… because that’s what makes other people comfortable. And, my dad, particularly my “step”-dad always wanted everyone to be comfortable exactly how they are.

  10. 21st September 2017 / 17:25

    Beautiful post, friend… I had no idea your dad is no longer on this earth with you/us. I can’t offer any insight but big hugs…

Leave a Reply

Just so you know, I reply to comments via email so we can continue the conversation. Catch you in your inbox!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *