I was just reading Mad Marriage's blog about her inlaws visiting, which made me miss my parents, and so I commented on that, writing that "my parents are gone." As soon as I wrote that word, my mother gave my knee a sharp squeeze and my father shot me his best askance-looking look (both interesting gestures considering they are dead, dead, dead).
In my family, you called death by its name. Someone died. He/she/they were dead. Not passed away. Nor did you lose them. In the first instance, we'd be likely to say "away where?" In the second, "how careless of you; have you looked carefully?"
We were definitely not a family of euphemisms. I'm not sure why this was, except that my father was such a literalist. He wanted you to name things as they were. A bathroom was not a bathroom unless there was a tub in it. And, in fact, if you said you were going to the bathroom and you were just going to use the toilet, better say so.
Words mattered. And they still matter to me. I know a lot of them and I like them and I use them--except when I can't remember them, in which case I look piteously at whoever I'm talking to and, even if it's someone I don't know, beg "what's the word I'm looking for? You know--" Sometimes they do and sometimes, I'm sure, they walk away thinking I'm nuts. It's one of the few cognitive deficits left by the aneurysm, this losing of words. It happens mostly when I'm tired, and there's a technical term the doctors and rehab people use. But I can't remember it right now.