Monday, March 9, 2015

Death as Metaphor 16: Death doth Sooth

Death is a metaphor when it is constructed culturally, then reinforced. Death and dying are unknowns and the metaphor provides an understanding beyond what we are capable of understanding.

It is the openness of poetry that allows individuals to speak about death and dying in their writing. It is comforting to have an avenue to discuss the denial, refusal to mourn, and the acceptance of death through poetry (Sexton, James. October 2010). Metaphors allow us to deal with the unknown by linking it to something that is familiar, even calling death different things such as ‘the dark rider’ who comes in the night or ‘the grim reaper.’
Metaphors for mortality are so prominent. They evolve and shape our understanding or discomfort with death by forming some control over what we cannot control (Sexton, James. October 2010).

The words ‘lost’ and ‘gone’ are often used to represent death instead of using the actual word itself. When a loved one dies, we tend to avoid the word in hopes of easing our pain. Likewise, the words ‘eternal rest’ and ‘sleep’ are used to denote how the living no longer is breathing or moving but dead. These metaphors may be convenient when it comes to talking or writing about death but the context within its use defines the reasoning for using them.

Death is a change that individuals must deal with and metaphors help in coping with the unfamiliar, mortality, the fear of dying, and to comfort our understanding.



Sexton, James. “The Semantics of Death and Dying: Metaphor and Mortality.” Etc 54 Fall 1997; 333-345. Academic Search Premier: Wilson Web. Web. 13 October 2010.

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