Never say die: death euphemisms, misunderstandings and their implications for practice

  • Deborah Rawlings, Jennifer J Tieman, Christine Sanderson, Deborah Parker, Lauren Miller-Lewis
  • International Journal of Palliative Nursing, July 2017, Mark Allen Group
  • DOI: 10.12968/ijpn.2017.23.7.324

Using plain language to talk about death

What is it about?

We asked MOOC participants to provide euphemisms (words that are used to avoid certain words) for death and dying such as 'kicked the bucket'. They not only came up with over 1,000 of them but also gave examples of where not using plain language caused embarrassment and distress.

Why is it important?

Nurses are aware not to use jargon or acronyms with patients and families but euphemism are just as confusing. It is important to make sure that any messages provided are clear, in simple language and able to be understood.

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