Fin, Bref


The French have so many poetic ways to say “she died.”  Like “elle a trouvé la mort,” which means that she found death, as if it were something for which she had been searching.  And in this case it might have been, since she took her own life.  “Elle s’est donné la mort.”  She gave herself death, the darkest gift.

Or there’s “elle n’est plus”  She is no more, where there was someone, now there’s no one.  The last time we saw her she stood far away from us, too far away for comfort, as if she were already leaving.  She was, in fact, à l’article de la mort, standing at death’s door, but we didn’t see it.  We saw her market stand, her chickens, and her eggs, but we didn’t know that what would come first was her death.

And then we have “elle est disparue.”   She’s disappeared, which is how it must seem to her two children.  One day you have a mother, the next day you don’t.  What you have is an empty mother space, a photo, a lifetime of questions and anguish.

Elle s’est éteinte. She went out, like a light.  In retrospect, she had looked dimmer and dimmer lately, but we thought it was winter, or fatigue, or just one of those passing things.

Elle nous a quitté.  She’s left us.  Did she think of that, how we’d still be here afterwards?  Did she wonder who’d be left making the quenelles at her restaurant? She left her family and her restaurant and her poultry farm and her market customers and the summer sun and the winter wind.  Fin, bref, Marjorie Besson is gone.

Fin, bref is usually used to say “to make a long story short.”  But literally, it means end, short.  Her life was short and now it’s reached its end.  Fin, bref, it’s a crying shame.

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France


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7 Comments on “Fin, Bref”

  1. Wolfgang Says:

    It is always a shame seeing outstanding people
    getting their call prior their time.

  2. Nancy Says:

    It is especially hard to accept when someone you knew, or thought you knew, decides that life is too difficult, too hard, too insurmountable to continue. That person had reasons, but from this side of the door they may not be clear enough for comfort.

  3. This is the third suicide this Year reported by people I know . Times are indeed hard it seems .

  4. emmanuel Says:

    Thanks for this post. I just want to add that there is no such expression as Elle s’éteinte.. You have to say Elle s’est éteinte. It is a passive form, something like “She has switched herself of”….

  5. emmanuel Says:

    And “fin bref” is short for “Enfin bref” i.e “at last, short”…keep the good work

  6. Abra Bennett Says:

    Thanks, Emmanuel, you are absolutely right, and I’m going to correct the original post immediately.

  7. Well done on a beautifully written blog post. I got to you by searching “fin, bref to make sure I was using the expression correctly on my own blog and got a clear explanation of that and other expressions on yours.

    I eagerly looked at your other posts to see if they were similar in content. You could write possibly the most interesting website on learning real French, illuminating each expression as you have this time. Please let us know if you decide to!

    Best wishes

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