If You Don’t Want Us Speaking Ill of the Dead

If it disturbs you to see people speak ill of the dead, it might be time to examine the apparent compulsion to speak well of them. There will always be those who mean so much to us that we have to eulogize them. Of course. Observances of death are for the living, including the mourners.

After that, well, we always have the option to say nothing. We take it too rarely. Even more rarely do we think about how our words may prompt responses, how our statements invite argument.

You don’t owe it to the dead to speak well of them. They can’t be helped or harmed by it. They’re dead. Your words, if any, are for the living. That includes the people injured by the dead. If you don’t want them to speak of those injuries, consider simply not speaking praise that erases them. It’s easier than you might think.

If You Don’t Want Us Speaking Ill of the Dead

2 thoughts on “If You Don’t Want Us Speaking Ill of the Dead

  1. 1

    I can’t help being curious about which “dead” you are speaking of, but I’m assuming that if you wanted us to know, you’d have said so already. So instead of commenting about that unnamed dead person, I’ll go off on a tangent (well, a rant, really) about the dead (or probably dead) people I speak ill of.

    The people I would speak ill of (whether they are dead or not) are people who’ve made my life miserable (or worse) or made Hell for people I care about. And I recently came up with two responses to people who would criticize me for it:

    1. If they were all that interested in having me not speak ill of them, maybe — just maybe — they should have thought about it before doing those awful things, and

    2. In all the cases I can think of, there’s nothing I can say that would hurt them even a tiny fraction of the amount that they’ve hurt me and/or the people I care about. Ya know, like the difference between being called a racist and being someone hurt by racism. So: cry me a river; or, I’m playing the world’s tiniest violin.

    Anyway, if (generic) you are more concerned about what people might say about the dead person than about the evil that they did before they died, then you’re making common cause with the abuser and I hope it does make you feel bad. Because you’ve just shown that you’re on the side of the abusers and thus deserve to have ill spoken of you, too.

    To quote Hannah Gadsby:
    “ ‘…. We only care about a man’s reputation.’ What about their humanity?

  2. 2

    Heh. Actually, I didn’t name anyone mostly because it’s a repeating pattern. I’ve been making some form of these observations for Nancy Reagan, George H.W. Bush, John McCain, and most recently, whichever Koch brother it was who just died.

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