© 2024 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Perspective: Died or passed away?


“The only thing you and I have in common, Mr. Creedy, is we’re both about to die.”
--Hugo Weaving as V in “V for Vendetta”

So says Hugo Weaving as V in the epic 2005 dystopian drama “V for Vendetta.”

While the line is brief, it symbolizes something I often wonder about as a writer and student of our language and its impact on society:

Do we say “died?” Or “passed away?”

Let’s face it, no one here is getting out alive. Why the continued use of the latter?

Well, the phrase apparently has its origins in 15th century England where people literally believed a soul passed on to the next stage, presumably heaven or hell.

Still, I find “passed away” is yet another way we try to make death less of a. . . death. Given that we are ALL on the clock, I find it odd.

“Mafia kingpin Paul Castellano passed away after being riddled with bullets in front of Midtown Manhattan’s Sparks Steakhouse.”

Really? He died. Violently, as it were. It’s ok. It happens and it will keep happening ad infinitum.

I recently heard an interview with the deputy administrator of NASA. She’s a fascinating and talented astronaut and she kept referring to the Challenger and Columbia “mishaps.”

Mishaps? Maybe in the engineering and astronautical world of NASA they were. In reality, they were disasters where fourteen of the best and brightest DIED. Just say it!

So, I’ll continue to peruse the obituaries looking for people who died, passed away or even “departed this earthly life,” as I’ve also seen. And that’s fine. You do you.

However, when I punch the clock for the last time, I would prefer my demise be noted with the same seriousness as was declared in “The Godfather” when Luca Brasi met his end.

“Wester Wuori sleeps with the fishes.”

I am Wester Wuori. I’m still alive and that’s my Perspective.

Wester Wuori is one of the original WNIJ Perspectives contributors. He lives in Rockford.