I can’t be the only one to notice this. Or am i just the first person to write about it, or have the chutzpah to talk about it?
Every person I have talked to recently about someone who has passed makes that person out to be a saint, a mensch, a pillar of society. They were all wonderful people. They never said a bad word about anyone, everyone loved them, they always wanted to help others – they were one of my closest friends. They gave so much of themselves, they were always there for me, their family always came first, they were always there to help anyone in need. They volunteered, they coached, they mentored. They were so successful in business and gave so much back to the community and everyone around them. Holy crap, they were amazing people.
Now I am not mean, or cruel, or un-sympathetic – but really? And the more tragic the death, the more amazing they were. I have never been to a funeral or a wake or visited a house of shiva where they talked badly about the deceased. Yes, it is common courtesy not to bad mouth the dead, but why does it have to start at the funeral home or the cemetery – this is my point.
I hear people talk about other people. They talk about that they are cheap – they never pick up the check when we go out for lunch or dinner, they never put on a fair tip for the waitress, they never pay their fair share. But as soon as they are dead they were the most generous, giving person around.
They talk about how they pushed their children too hard, they shouted at soccer and hockey games, ever got thrown out of a few games. They berated the coaches and the refs as well as the opposing players. They criticized the teachers and the principal about how inept they were. But as soon as they die, they were the most supportive caring parents who were always there to support their children and their teams. They were always ready to run the carpool and support the school.
They talk about how they work late all the time, and work on the weekends. They didn’t spend enough time at home, they didn’t go to school plays or teacher meetings. They went on long business trips and spent too much time at the club with friends and not at home. But as soon as they die, their families meant everything to them and they could not give their spouse or children enough love, nor spend enough time with them, or take them on enough vacations.
For children – they talk about how they don’t listen to their parents, they have a tattoo or for goodness sake a piercing. How wild they are, how poor athletes they are and how they should not be on the “A” team. They drink, they smoke, they cut classes and drive fast. But when the unimaginable happens, and their young child passes, they become the most compassionate and loving child, they were so funny and understanding. Everyone loved them and they had so many friends. Their teachers and coaches loved them. They talked to us for hours and were so in tune to what they wanted in life.
I could go on, but you get my drift.
Now there is a certain compassion that we all have when someone passes away, and I don’t want to disparage anyone who has passed away. But my point it this – why does someone have to die for us to see the good that they are? Why do we first see the bad and the negative and dark side of people when they are alive, and then all of a sudden they are dead and they become saints? Do we have to talk about people like we are on Real Housewives all the time?
We are all guilty of it, I have just become so much more aware of it being in bereavement groups now. Every child or sibling we talk about is almost perfect. that is why I enjoy these groups to some degree. They are negative in terms of why we are there, but we mostly talk in positive terms of anyone. We very rarely, if ever, say something ill about our children, or about others. They were all wonderful, cheerful, amazingly smart and loved individuals. Now I know Andrew was all of these things and more. But he was also short tempered sometimes, he drove too fast and a little reckless occasionally, left the house without saying goodbye once in a while. He and I fought about some stupid things here and there, he hung up on me once in a while (never his mom though), and was not really good with time management or showing respect for some people who he felt did not deserve respect. You would already know these things if you really knew him, or talked to me about him before we lost him.
So once again, what’s my point? Now that we talk about our lost ones in my bereavement groups, and I talk to so many other bereaved parents, spouses and siblings, I have learned to talk positively about everyone. I don’t think about their dark sides, nor do I seek it out. I don’t talk about what was bad or negative, or what I perceive as a person’s faults. I try to find something nice to say, I ask about what they were like, I look for the light and the sunshine – not the darkness.
Everyone has faults and a dark side – but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t talk about that so much, and more about the positive and what that person contributed to our lives as well as others?
And let’s face it, how do we want others to talk about us?