Yesterday was the 35th anniversary of the Miracle On Ice, the Olympic hockey game between the United States and the Soviet Union, which the U.S. shockingly won. It's one of the greatest underdog stories in sports history that's also a total historical artifact. Could there be any matchup with those ramifications today? Not likely. And I'm fine with that, unlike a lot of people who seem to think the U.S. is incomplete without a mortal enemy they can play in Olympic sports. But anyway. That's not even the point of this blog.
One article I read about the game — which one exactly escapes me — noted that U.S. team coach Herb Brooks "passed away in 2003." Which is a weird way to say that someone died in a car crash. I would think "passed away" implies someone dying of old age or otherwise after a lengthy battle with an ailment, rather than describing an unexpected tragedy.
But then, I'm not a huge fan of death euphemisms, either in conversation or (especially) in journalism. Though "passed away" is actually far better than many others, such as "went home" or "no longer with us" or "in a better place" or "is now in the joyous custody of their dear Lord." They may be meant to soften the biggest blow of all, but some are inadvertently amusing in how hard they try.
As far as death euphemisms go, I prefer "gone." Though many people who are alive are also gone, so maybe "died" is the best way to go.