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Block That Euphemism

Adam Bernstein

Brinsfield Funeral Home in Leonardtown, Md., has started to call itself the Brinsfield "Life Celebration Home."

An employee there told me today that this is a new development, designed to coincide with its "life celebration" packages such as DVDs, a memorial portrait of the deceased and a pamphlet with 10 of the family's favorite pictures of the departed. For licensing reasons, the business must officially remain the Brinsfield Funeral Home.

Brinsfield may offer nice packages, but isn't it enough already that nursing homes are rebranded "life care communities," police officers are "public safety officers" and lobbyists are "government affairs representatives"?

Should obit writers call themselves "life celebrants" or "afterlife liaisons"?

By Adam Bernstein  |  December 12, 2007; 11:39 AM ET
Categories:  Adam Bernstein  
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Comments

I hear that the title Crypt Keeper is available for a franchise fee.

Posted by: Sasquatch | December 12, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

This sort of euphemism became widely known thanks to The Loved One and The American Way of Death. Nice to know that the funeral industry hasn't gotten shy about coining words.

Back in those days it was "loved one" for stiff and flashy, high-tech "cremains" for the ashes left over after you put Mom to the torch.

Morticians are some of the better-paid euphemists.

Posted by: Your necrological consultant | December 12, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Every word in English to describe the mortuary trade is either a euphemism or a loanword from another language. "Undertaker" simply means "one who undertakes". A "funeral home" is no home but a business that does more than handle funerals. "Mortuary" and "mortician" are derivations from Latin (and probably meant to dignify, or cover up, the nasty business of death with the use of ancient language), and "cemetery" ultimately derives from a Greek word meaning "to put to sleep". Even that great old word "charnel" comes from Latin.

We simply don't have a plain English word for "dead body handlers". I'm not sure if "Life Celebration Home" is a step up, though.

Posted by: Charlene | December 15, 2007 5:42 AM | Report abuse

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