Friday, October 1, 2010

Euphemisms

Lately I've been thinking about euphemisms and the way we use them. I've been thinking about how they serve us and also how they do us a disservice. I've been listening to my kids as they talk & they never feel a need to disguise what it is they are trying to communicate. I, however, often do.

There's a particular euphemism that has gotten this thought train rolling.

I lost the baby.

I've said this phrase countless times over the last nine weeks. I lost the baby. And one day, it hit me--it makes me really angry that this is the polite way to say what's happened to me. As though I accidentally misplaced him. Or left him somewhere I ought not have. Or wasn't keeping track of him.

In reality, I did everything I could to do my best for my child. I wasn't careless or reckless. I took my vitamins, went to prenatal appointments, didn't drink or smoke, exercised, ate as well as I could through the constant nausea, listened to my body. I wasn't irresponsible. I wasn't careless. And, yet, my baby died.

It frustrates me that I can't just call it like it is: my son died. Despite my best efforts, my baby is gone.

During this whole experience, I've found myself feeling ashamed when I have to break the news to someone. I feel as though I have to manage their reaction, be aware of how this might hurt them. And I can't help but wonder if this euphemism is partly to blame, by putting the liability on me... I lost the baby. I just really wish it were acceptable for me to simply say, "my baby died," and not have to worry about how it is received.

Because this is tough enough without having to take on the responsibility this euphemism saddles me with.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. What a powerful observation. And you're right -- it's both the implied carelessness ("lost") and blame ("I") that are so wrong.

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