If Something Happens to Me

By | November 10, 2022
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If Something Happens to Me

The other day I was talking to one of my sons and I said something like “if something happens to me” about something I wanted him to do in the event of my demise.

The older I get the more references I make to my eventual demise. I really don’t know if my demise is eventual, imminent, or impending. I’m an old man – but even the young don’t know. All I know is we’re all given so many days on this earth and none of us know how many days we have — which at least makes it interesting. It would be awful – for me at least – to know the date of my demise. I mean I think I’d waste too much time focusing on that date or putting things off if the date was in the distant future.

One thing is for sure, I’m an old man and I don’t have a “distant future”. As I’ve said, my demise is eventual, impending, or imminent and I can only hope it’s still in the eventual category.

But what I want to talk about today is our use of euphemisms when it comes to our own demise or the demise of others close to us. We go to extreme measures to avoid the use of the words dead, died, death, and dying unless we’re talking about strangers, those we don’t like, or mass casualties.

For instance: 80 Dead in Yesterday’s Earthquake

If aunt Millie died yesterday, she is not dead. She did not die, She “passed away” or “passed on”. If 60 people died in a plane crash yesterday, trust me, they’re dead.

So, why do we avoid using the words dead, dying, death, and died, when referring to the death of those close to us? I don’t mean to sound crass, but if aunt Millie passed away she’s certainly dead. Deader than a doornail even if we say she passed away.

I do it, you do it, and most of us do it. And most of us, when referring to our own eventual death never say… “Hey Mac, when I’m dead, you can have my riding lawnmower…” We say “Hey Mac, if something happens to me you can have my riding lawnmower”.

When you think about it, “If something happens to me” is a rather nebulous thing to say. Lots of things could happen to me:

I could have a root canal.
I could win the lottery.
I could get my foot caught in the blade of the aforementioned lawnmower.
I could win a fruit basket at the local Moose club.
I could have a new grandchild.
I could get stuck in the snow.
I could get struck by lightning and survive.
I could lose the rest of my hair.
I could eat some food tainted with botulism.
I could get bitten by a rattlesnake.
I could fall through the ice on Sandusky Bay and get hypothermia.

So we don’t really mean “if something happens to me” – something is always happening to me. When we say “if something should happen to me”, we mean… If (when) I die. When I’m dead. When I’m dead and gone.

We have always tried to avoid the words dead or died. Here are some euphemisms we use in place of the “D” words…

Kicked the bucket
Dirt nap
Bought a one-way ticket
Had his or her ticket pulled
Bit the dust
Bought the farm
Shuffled off the mortal coil (Shakespeare fans)
Was called home
Slipped away
Resting in peace
Pushing up daisies
Passed away
Passed on
Is in a better place
Faded away
Dropped off
Six feet under
Met his/her maker
With the angels

You can say he or she did any of those things, but no matter whether they croaked, went to meet their maker, are with the angels, slipped away, pushing up daisies – he or she is still dead.  They didn’t pass away, they did not fade away, they did not bite the dust, they died.

But for some reason I say (more often these days)… ‘If something happens to me, please do this or that… or you can have this or that, or please make sure that this or that is done. Everyone knows when anyone says, “If something should happen to me” they mean… “When I die” or “When I’m dead”. But no one likes to say “when I die” or “when I’m dead” because it has such dark or happy connotations – depending on how one lived his or her life. It would be much nicer to shuffle off the mortal coil knowing one was headed to heaven than if one were taking the elevator down to the River Styx. 

But how do you know for sure? I’m not going to assume anything when it comes to eternity, so I’m going to keep on saying “If something happens to me” instead of “when I croak”, “when I kick the bucket”, “when I buy the farm”… or “when I die”.

So, if something happens to me you can have my…






7 thoughts on “If Something Happens to Me

  1. Joann Bolen

    “Interesting”! I had a conversation w/you (via messages) years ago about our age & you seemed offended at the time. We’re about the same age & you, at that time, wanted to refrain from blaming anything on “old age” – which was always approaching…I felt, even back the, that I’d noticed some “slips” in my own life.

    But today I’ve enjoyed your article & appreciate the read…

    Thank you very much & enjoy the Autumn weather & all the sunshine we get in our lives.

    Sincere friendship via CloudEight,

    Joann Bolen

    1. infoave Post author

      You didn’t offend me. I find many people like to use getting old as an excuse not to learn or try new things. I realize many older people have health issues that negatively affect their learning ability. The trouble with typing to communicate, the nuances of normal conversation are lost and one can easily be misunderstood. If I offended you, I’m sorry.

  2. Maria

    I enjoyed your article. I usually say “if I die” you can…do or have this or that. Have a Blessed day!

  3. Elijah Gale

    I suspect that we are hardwired in the brain from evolution to fear death so much that if we have a kind heart, we tend to speak of death to others in such euphemisms as you listed. If we do not have a kind heart or are not conditioned to be well-mannered socially, then I guess we speak plainly regardless of the effect our speech has on people. … My grandmother said that, “the greatest gift we ever received was the gift of life, … and it is so sad that we were too young cognitively to know it at the time it was given (at birth or conception.) … If that is so, then death would be the worst thing that can happen to a person, unless the religious promise of everlasting life is true for some people. … Some say that “who we are is based on who we are with.” …. If that is true, then I guess I speak in euphemisms to some people and I speak plainly without euphemisms to others.

  4. Maggie

    Dear T.C you are a little joy germ today but I do understand where you are coming from as I have been trying to get my ducks in a row for many months and am still only on the facing page. I have at the moment decided that my Eulogy will be completely unorthodox and may raise a few eyebrows but I am going to be in control of that part of the ceremony. I am not going to have my daughters stand up and tell me how good I have been to them because I witnessed that every day of my life. I am going to have a spokesperson for me to read and tell the congregation how wonderful my two daughters have been to me and without them how much harder and more difficult my life would have been without them. They have been my sounding board on many occasions and have done it with sincerity, patience, and an abundance of love. What more could one parent ask for to have so much affection and love bestowed on them? I step back and thank God every day and think that I must have done something right. Good luck to all the parents who in this day and age do not have an easy row to hoe.

  5. Jean

    I really enjoyed this article and realise just how guilty I am to. As I am now the grand old age of 82 I find myself quite often saying to my family “when I’m not here” i know what I mean and they do to so don’t comment, although my daughter does say quite often “Mum you are so healthy you will live till your 90”.

    My husband died (I can type it but have problems saying it) three years ago and if I have to tell people he is no longer with me I hesitate, I don’t like passed on, with the angels or anything like that so tend to quickly mumble “died” and then quickly carry on talking.

  6. TerryB

    Hello TC and your younger friend,
    I’m 79 and for a couple of years now I have told family members I have, “seniors moments, brain f—ts, etc.” but when it comes to “passing on”, I usually keep it short by saying something like, “when I’m gone…” As you say, they know what I mean. In the final analysis, when I’m gone the issue is theirs to handle.
    Hang in there, you old bird.


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