Not Dead Yet, But Undoubtedly on the Way

We're not dead yet, but we are getting old
We’re not dead yet, but we are dying

A recent article in my hometown paper, the Star Tribune (Just don’t call me old: Baby boomers waging a war on words; Jan 4, 2015) reports the following nonsense:

“At Ecumen [an organization running senior housing and long-term care facilities in the Midwest] ‘facilities’ are now called communities. Condo buildings in the Twin cities are promoting their ’55-and-better’ living. The Bradshaw funeral business promotes ‘meaningful events that celebrate life.’ Nursing homes have become ‘care centers,’ and social workers have become ‘concierges.'”

Here’s my rundown on the “market research improvements” embodied in this “war on words:”

1. I have my own community, thank you. When I am of an age to require assistance that no one in my community can provide, I will seek the appropriate services in the appropriate facilities.

2. 55 is not always better. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it’s not.

3. When I die I’d like a service to celebrate my life but I’d also like people to recognize I’m gone and that their days are numbered, too.

4. Re: ‘nursing homes,’ see #1 above.

5. To call a social worker a “concierge” is as politically and professionally incorrect as the worst abuses of words. These are the people we count on to protect children from abuse, to counsel struggling partnerships, to deliver the hard news of loss of independence to any number of the suffering. Please, if you want a concierge, go to a hotel.

I guess it’s evident I’m not all that impressed with boomerisms denying the aging process. Maybe it’s because my husband is a pathologist, or because my mother’s parents were both dead by the time she was twelve–or let’s see, because (as my sister repeatedly told her even very-young children) ALL LIVING THINGS DIE.

Don’t get me wrong: as a writer I’m familiar with the power of words. I like women to be called ‘women,’ and not ‘girls,’ ‘ladies’ and ‘gals.’ I try to use politically correct language when it seems more respectful, more reflective of a certain point of view. Language is, of course, how we describe reality, how we define the world in which we live.

But guess what, folks? Like my sister says, ALL LIVING THINGS DIE. That’s reality, and a universal truth. You don’t step on anybody’s toes when you say that eventually they’re going to die.

I think that’s the problem here. Some people (aka boomers, defined in Wikipedia as born between 1946 and 1964)  apparently take offense to it. Dying, that is. Mortality, it seems. Instead, we’re supposed to covet images such as are presented in a certain Taco Bell ad described in the article:

“…seniors flashing nipple rings and misbehaving as they escape from the retirement home for a night on the town.”


OK, I’ve got work to do. I’d like to sell a book before I die. I’m not dead, but I am, certainly, dying. We have friends and co-workers our age who are are very sick, and some who have already passed. No one lives forever. That is the simple truth, and we’re far better off using it to get our asses in gear than to flash nipple rings.





  1. PREACH IT SISTER! Amen and Amen. Thank you for telling it like it is. Oh do I get sick of hearing about the next best thing to help us live longer. For many people, the problem is not living longer, it’s living better. And you and your hubs are great examples of living well. The travel, the bike trips, the work ethic and care for others. Bravo. Write on my dear friend! Being a writer is about being honest, even if it means using words of fiction to reveal truth; it’s still about truth. Using words to obscure truth is abominable. May we live well and tell the truth all the way until the end. xoxo

  2. As a hospice admissions nurse, I frequently meet people my age (and older) who seem to have never considered the fact that they, or their parents, will die. I’m not talking about people who are dealing with the emotional impact of learning of their own or someone else’s (relatively) imminent death. I’m not talking about people using a little healthy denial to get them through a difficult time. I’m not talking about people who haven’t taken any actions or made any plans related to death and dying (their own, or others’). I’m talking about people who have apparently never taken seriously the idea that all living things die. They are simply shocked that such a thing could happen to them or someone they love. This is our only certainty, and they have managed, somehow, to ignore it.

  3. I loved this outlook so much and I just know I will object to the attempt to pretend that aging and dying is something to hide and soften. I read a book I loved that I think speaks well to this topic — Travels with Epicurus by Daniel Klein.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *