Tuesday, 6 July 2010

When do words lose their power?

The phone just rang. When I picked it up, it was a cold caller who asked to speak to R.

I was expecting it to be my Mum, so I was completely wrong-footed by the question. After a big pause, I stammered out the reason why he couldn't come to the phone and, to her credit, she was very kind and said that she would make sure his name will be taken off the list. But my initial reaction was to say that he was at work or make up some other excuse, rather than tell her the truth.

After nearly two years, why is it still so difficult to say the 'D' word?


  1. Whenever something like this happened to me I looked at it this way: I felt that my saying the truth that my husband had died "helped" the other person by giving them some pause - a reality check so to speak. I hoped that my being honest would result in the other person going home that night and hugging their spouse extra tightly. Or that they'd give up an argument realizing it was no longer important in the grand scheme of things.

  2. I can't say the d word about my Dad even though it's been ten years. I can now manage "late" as in my "late" father.

  3. megan05:47

    I still write d..d, even in my own journals, writing to the man who knows quite well he d..d. Also on the list: fu....al, and most definitely the c-word that ends in -mation. Putting that word together with the person who was just Right Here - can't. Maybe never.

  4. @WitM: Thank you for that new way of looking at things. I shall have to go away and ponder that for a while.

    @Rose & Megan: Perhaps it is still a universal taboo, particularly where our loved ones are concerned. It does have something to do with the disconnect between the person we knew and the awful finality of the words. I still get bills from the garage in R's name because I don't want to have the conversation with them. Perhaps, as you say, I never will.

  5. It's odd, I don't have that problem saying the word 'dead' in regards to my Nelson...although I've been known to embroider it. My dearly departed. My late beloved. Etc. But for me it was almost part and parcel with widda brain...I've had to relearn the taboo...It's odd indeed. I wish, if grief were going to rewire my brain, it would at least leave some notes somewhere as to what it's doing....