Dear Aunt Foley: I heard my Mom tell my Dad that my Grandfather kicked the bucket. I looked at the bucket and it hadn’t been kicked. What’s going on? - Copernicus.
Dear Copernicus: I am sorry to tell you this my friend but your Grandfather has joined me here at the Bridge. Humans don’t do a very good job dealing with the ones they love crossing over and sometimes they invent terms to make it easier to deal with. Kick the bucket is one of those terms.
I had my minions look into the origin of the phrase. There are many answers. Some say it comes from when humans hung themselves, they would stand on a bucket, and kick it to induce their falling and choking to death. Another claim is that pigs, before being slaughtered were hung from a beam, where they would kick and struggle. This beam was commonly called the bucket. A third theory is from an old Catholic funeral custom. A bucket of holy water was placed by the feet so mourners could sprinkle holy water on the corpse. Although I would imagine in such instance if the bucket was kicked the death of the corpse may have been overly reported.
Once again I think my research shows that humans are a pretty messed up bunch. But there are lots of reasons that humans do this. When something hurts them humans use humor as a way to deal with it. This is one of the healthiest ways to handle it, existing in that land between laughs and tears.
The good news is that you don’t have to fear the bucket. You can kick the bucket all over the house and don’t have to worry about anything bad happening to you. Just don’t stand on the bucket. Those things aren’t too sturdy.
And your grandfather is happily with us here, where he enjoys himself like he was a young boy again, although I must admit, the sound of him running around the school yard kicking a bucket in the air is rather annoying.