Go Ahead: Speak Ill of the Dead

I’ve often thought that it can be very wrong when people are made into saints after they die. I’ve sat at a few funerals and actually wondered if I was in the right place because I sure didn’t recognize whomever they were eulogizing….must have been someone else because the person I knew wasn’t like that at all, not on their best day…not on any day.

They ran roughshod over everyone, did lots of damage, and often inflicted more pain on their families than anyone should ever deal with, and one day, they up and die and depart for destinations unknown…..the presence of heaven or hell is the topic of another blog but I’ve been of the opinion that conscious infliction of pain on others does not result in a Fast Pass to the gates of paradise.

But then, after the fact, it seems that no one will call them on it.

I sit with folks who look like a lightning bolt will come down and smote them for saying anything bad about someone who has died, like somehow the perpetrator is perched next to God (I kind of doubt it, actually) and creating some kind of record of what mean things are said about them when they are no longer here to defend themselves.  “Speaking ill of the dead” seems to be some kind of taboo, and I hear all manner of people, particularly those who have the most to say about the crap they endured, looking hesitant to say anything direct about it at all.

(I do point out, dear readers, that the bereaved has spent many hours in many sessions talking about the abuse in the past, but suddenly, after it’s all over, they don’t want to say anything bad at all.  Kind of interesting.)

I’m here to say, out loud, a few simple things.

It’s okay to be glad or relieved that someone is gone.

Sometimes, they really needed to leave and take their bad selves somewhere else.

But most of us have a hard time actually saying that.

Often those who did the most damage didn’t care too much about what they were doing or saying when they were alive so it seems even more important to clear the decks and speak the truth after the fact. (See previous blog “The Language of Wrong”).  The main reason for this is that we often keep bad trends going and inflict them on if we don’t deal with them and pledge to stop the madness from being passed on to other defenseless generations.

I know. ….

It sucks having to clean up after someone else’s bad behavior but it’s really important to give it the time and space to recognize the wrongs and not just let it go. The problem with this tactic is that, very often, their words come back and are re-uttered, doing even more damage the second time around because YOU KNOW BETTER!  You  KNOW how it feels.  You’ve been there, done that, and suffered.

Please…….give yourself the gift of honesty and talk about it.  Say what needs to be said, to someone who can hear it, understand it, and help you with it.   You deserve to grieve and speak the truths, no matter how ugly or painful they may be.  Maybe it’s for the dad or mother you didn’t get but that you needed.  Perhaps it’s for the molester who stole your innocence, or the spouse who never saw you for who you really are and betrayed you.  Grieve for the loss of what should have been and for what can never be.

Speak ill of the dead so you can leave them there and not take them with you into your own incredible life.


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