Garry Shandling died today. He was in the background of my early-adult years and it's sad to hear he's gone. But the writer side of me cringed when I read what NBCNews.com wrote about him.
"Garry Shandling was felled by a heart attack."
Listen, I know we don't like to write "died" or "dead." If it happened to him it might happen to us, and so we flower it up. But some phrasing just isn't OK. One is felled in armor by another knight in a jousting contest. One might be felled in a duel. Heart attack? That killed you.
While we're on it, people don't expire. Milk does, coupons do, library borrow times do. We're not dairy or coupons or books. Don't write "expired" for people.
People die. Garry Shandling died. If he's my relative (he's not, just so we're all clear) he passed away or passed on, and he might even have crossed over. But if I don't share blood and I'm telling readers that he's no longer with us, he died.
Simple is better. Even if we don't want to think about it.