Years ago, people used to talk about ‘passing away’. I remember when I was about eight and my grandfather died, my grandmother saying to someone who enquired, “Oh, he, er, passed away” which I thought was an impressive, grown - up way of talking about a death, so when my teacher asked me how my grandfather was, knowing that he had been ill, I too replied with, “Oh he, er, passed away” and felt terribly grown up. I imagine the teacher turned away to hide a smile and the tale was told in the staff room at the first opportunity.
In recent years, the ‘in’ word is ‘passed.’ I have wondered if this is part of the modern tendency to shorten and simplify everything but actually, I don’t really understand why we can’t simply say that someone has died.
On Thursday, four of us sat by Dad’s bed as his life drew to its close. It was laboured and he was not really aware of what was happening around him and in that respect, it seemed not unlike the process of birth. Earlier in the day, the Methodist minister had visited to say prayers, at their usual times, the carers had been to make him comfortable and the district nurses had called to adjust his medication.
We will miss him, of course we will, but we will also remember that he lived a full and interesting life and achieved lots of things he wanted to and many that he never expected to and that will be his legacy.