On two different occasions since I got back from Korea I have met two different elderly women whose respective husbands were ailing when I went away. How do I inquire about their life and health?
Is [Fred] (still) alive?
Is [Fred] dead?
Has [Fred] died?
Did [Fred] die?
How is [Fred] (these days)?
I said something like ‘I haven’t heard anything/any news about Fred recently’ (awkward pause), and each woman told me that her husband had died, one while I was in Korea and one since I got back. I knew each couple through a different organisation, and it’s possible that the deaths were announced on those organisations’ social media. If so, I missed them. The older I get, the more often this is likely to happen.
It must also be awkward for a widow or widower, too. Do they say ‘Oh, did you know that [Fred] died?’? If so, for how long?
I’m honoured to have known those two men, and to know those two women. Joe and John – Rest eternal rest grant them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine on them.