Respecting People Who Have Passed

?? - posted on 04/12/2010 ( 16 moms have responded )

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There was recently a young man who died in my area from cancer. I didn't know him personally but I had heard quite a bit about him and he had a bit of a reputation for being a not so nice person. Now that he is dead, I see the same people who told me about how bad of a person he was, saying how amazing he was and how much they will miss him and how their hearts are breaking at the loss of this wonderful young life.

The other day a girl was near tears talking about how he made her smile and that she'd miss that so much. I had to remove myself before I blurted out "but you told me that he was a total douche to you and that you had to punch him in the crotch so that he'd get away from you when he was trying to touch your breasts." I sent that person a message a couple hours later and I asked why she would say something so nice about a guy who she had told me had tried to violate her and she replied to me with; "I can't disrespect a dead person. He wasn't ALL bad... so I'll just forget what happened and focus on a couple times he was nice to me. Sorry I put you in that position."


Growing up there were a few times where friends of mine or people I went to school with died in car accidents. Once it was the drivers fault, he was drunk and going to fast - the accident killed 2 and 1 survived. Another time, the road was icey and the driver died but the baby survived. Another time, the car was rear-ended, 1 died and 2 survived. Another, the car was side swiped and 1 twin died and the other survived. In each situation there were people who were virtual strangers or JUST acquaintances of the person who died and they would be acting like it was their best friend or the love of their life had died. They acted so devasted that it was almost ridiculous because I KNEW that they barely knew the person.

In each instance I found it so insulting to the person who passed away and their family, friends, people who really truly had that connection with them.

Do you think that acting like someone means more to you than they did while they were alive is appropriate or disrespectful? Do you think that it's 'respecting' the dead by forgetting how bad of a person they were? What do you think of someone who would go to someone's funeral and claim to have loved them so much, even though they've only actually hung out with them once, ever? Is the elaborate mourning, regardless of actual connection to the individual, a way of respecting the people who have passed away?

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Mary - posted on 04/13/2010

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I don't think it has anything to do with the dead person at all. It has more to do with respecting the feelings of those they have left behind who did love and cherish them.



As some of you may know, my mom, with whom I was very close, died suddenly last week. She was an incredible person who was truly loved by her family, and had an enormous network of friends and extended family. Her funeral was a bit of a circus (the afternoon viewing alone had over 500 people). I spoke with so many people it was overwhelming, somw of whom only knew her casually through her volunteer work, or through church. Many of them did not know her all that well, and more than a few of them were teary-eyed, and rather verbose in their condolences. I know that they were not nearly as grief stricken with me, but rather, were both sympathetic and empathetic to my loss. They were offering me comfort by saying all of the positive things they could recall. It IS comforting.



I don't believe in cannonizing the dead jsut becasue they are no longer with us. While my mother was a remarkable woman, I am sure that she must have pissed people off at some point ( she was remarkably kind and giving, but rather opinionated as well!). However, focusing on her negative qualities just after she died was NOT going to be helpful to me, or anyone in my family.



People are only deserving of the respect they earned while living...but those they leave behind are entitled to only our kindness and warm memories while they are grieving.

Sharon - posted on 04/12/2010

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I've been there. I cannot bring myself to say nice things about assholes that have passed. That doesn't mean I have to blather on about how shitty they were to me to those who did care.

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Emma - posted on 04/30/2010

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I think the most moving eulogy i ever heard, was given by the mother of My friend that died, he was in a car accident and died age 18.
So was so honest, she made us laugh and cry, she remembered when he got suspended for smoking weed and how he could be a shit sometimes, all those things made him who he was and she wanted to remember him not some fake perfect son but her son.

When my dad died we did not do a eulogy we played music that described him best and the one track he made us promise to play when he pegged it, which turned out to be a little twisted considering how he died but everyone thought it was so him
he died in a car accident and and we played Who's gona drive you home buy the Cars.

Ive written my own eulogy as the though of people making out that i am all sweetness and light makes me feel a tad notorious to be honest, my hubby told me to tape it as if someone was to read it it might come across wrong lol.

I hate the fakeness of it all, if the person was a prick you say i feel for there family as someone must of loved them even if only the persons mom.

Lindsay - posted on 04/13/2010

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I have seen the people that consistantly "befriend" someone who is either on their deathbed or right when they pass. There are definately attention seekers out there and I do find it to be disrespectful to the people that were actually close to the person. But I also know that people handle death differently. And to some, it doesn't matter the relationship with the person. They will still grieve. Maybe because it makes them re-evaluate their own lives and relationships and try to put them in that place. Maybe it's because they have regrets and realize that now they won't have the time to fix, repair, or work on that relationship. I have no idea what goes through their heads. I've lost a good amount of people in my life. A few were friends, some aquaintances, and many relatives. Each and every one of them played some impact on my life. But with each one, I responded differently. I lost an aquaintance in highschool. I had known her since kindergarten and we'd been on the same sports teams, taken the same classes and I had some found memories of her. But she wasn't in my close circle of friends. She died very quickly and unexpected from an illness (not entirely sure what it was though). I really struggled with it. My grandad, though, passed when I was about 28 weeks pregnant with Madeline. He was amazing. He couldn't wait to meet his first great-grandchild and I knew they would just get along amazingly. It never happened. I cried over everything in that pregnancy but never cried when he died. That is, until Madeline was born and I pulled up to their house for her to meet my Grandmother. I never "lost it" until months later. It doesn't make sense.



I guess my point in all my rambling is that while to one person it may not make sense that someone reacts a certain way, it may not be with bad intentions. If it's to get unneeded sympathy or attention, yes it's very disrespectful. But sometimes it merely may be their own personal reaction. It may be something out of their control.

Carolee - posted on 04/13/2010

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This actually brings to memory my great-grandmother's funeral. She died one month before her 105th birthday a few years back. We had a lot of gawkers look in on us because we were actually laughing about how big of a bitch she was! Honestly, it was more like a family reunion that happened to have a casket at the head of the room!!! The director of the funeral home had to actually come in and tell us all to quiet down (I have an extremely large family, so it was really loud) because there was another funeral about to start and that family thought it was very inappropriate to hear laughter. The reception afterwards was just like a pot-luck, though.



I hope people remember me for how I am, not how they WISH I had been. I know I'm a bitch sometimes, and I want at least one person to say it when I'm dead.

[deleted account]

On the opposite side of everyone else:

I had a very good friend, Drew, that had Muscular Dystrophy. He was wheelchair bound by the time he was a teenager. His life expectancy was supposed to be about 16, but he lived to the age 22 when he died in a car accident of all things. He was one of those people you just can't help but absolutely adore. We all hung out at his house, and if we wanted to go somewhere, we piled into his specially designed van that he drove with a joystick and computer. When he died, it shook the community. People came out of the woodwork to his wake and funeral. His parents stood in the receiving line (that wrapped around the church) at the wake and were asking each guest as they approached to share a story. I know they didn't know all these people, but they wanted to hear the good and funny stories about their beloved son.

But then again, this was actually a really good person that people really liked. So maybe that's the difference.

LaCi - posted on 04/13/2010

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I think it's silly to pretend someone was something they weren't just because they're dead. I'm not sure why people feel guilty for being honest. Thats how they were, if they didn't want to be remembered that way they shouldn't have behaved that way.

Lisamarie - posted on 04/13/2010

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I was actually having this convo with my hubby last night! One of my ex boyfriends from a few years ago hung himself 2 years ago and I also know of a few people that have been in car accidents. There are groups on facebook for him or certain people will talk about one of the deceased and EVERYONE will turn round and say "Oh, I loved him!, "I really miss him!" and I'm just thinking he didn't even know you or he hated you. He wasn't a nasty person or anything but I think it's disrespectful to pretend you were best mates when you weren't, that is undermining whatever life and friends this particular person made throughout his life. I always think about my ex but do not feel the need to air it to the public. I left one message on his facebook group and that's it, the rest is in my head. I also think it's disrespectful to the family of the deceased if they knew you didn't like him or know him yet you were turning up to their funeral in tears.

Having said that from someone who does not speak to her dad at the moment, the only thing that has always stopped me from removing him from my life was that he will die one day and I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if it happened while I wasn't talking to him. But I've always said it and always probably will even when he dies and that is that he's an a**ehole but he's still my dad.

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My aunt who I loved when i was 6 died when I was 16. I'd seen her ONCE! in the last 10 yrs before her death...she was a blubbering alcoholic when I did see her a year before she died. I felt bad for her family that she passed, but I couldn't muster up anything past that! I'd be sad if my mom died, even if she was an alcoholic...so I felt for THEM not her! My step-dad, who had issues with meth (and I am NO big fan of that drug or ANYONE on it!), died in bed with my mother...I did not shed a tear, felt quite indifferent (he also was suffering from chrones disease and was in constant pain...and the 4 yrs he was in our lives weren't the greatest). I felt for my mom. I did not feel any real loss for either of the 2 ppl I have listed. I do not talk about them...if they get brought up then I'll mostly listen, depends on the topic/conversation...but mostly I'm cordgial. I wouldn't go bad mouthing them if they were alive and I don't feel like I do now that they are dead...but I don't forget the crap they put the family through and act like they are saints either!

Rosie - posted on 04/12/2010

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i think alot of times death takes us by surprise and it makes us think about ourselves and our lives and who is important to us. it affects us in a profound way. now the person who died may not have meant that much to that individual, but it gets them thinking, and instead of looking selfish and saying these thoughts aloud, we say great things about the deceased. i know when i was in highschool, a boy in my class who i wasn't close to, but didn't hate or anything, his mother and 2 of his siblings died in a car accident. i cried, i hurt, but not at the fact that i would miss them-hell i never even met them-i just put myself in jacobs shoes and imagined how it would be for me if my mom, and 2 siblings died. i felt bad for jacob as well, obviously.



people who act that way when they say they hate the person may be doing the same thing. i know i wouldn't act like i was going to die,or pretend like my pain was more of the family or claim to kill myself or anything, but i think i would say nice things, and maybe throw out a sniffle or 2. i'm thinking of a certain person that i work with. the woman drives me nuts, but she does have some good aspects to her (rarely!lol!) i don't know if i'm making any sense, lol! hopefully i am a little!

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A boy I knew died of cancer when we were in high school. We had some of the same friends and hung out in the same group on occasion. When he died, I was greatly affected and saddened. I think it was because I realized that life is so precious and fragile. I, along with most of the school, went to the funeral. The family expected it. The service was held in a very large auditorium at it was at it's maximum capacity. I think these kinds of emotions can be expected anytime a very young person passes.

However, I do think it is disrespectful to act as if your pain is greater than that of the mourning family, as some of you ladies have described. I honestly don't think I've experienced that type of disrespect, but I may have been oblivious to it.

Krista - posted on 04/12/2010

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I think it's very disrespectful to carry on and wail as though that person meant a lot to you when they didn't. If you didn't know or didn't like the deceased, there is nothing wrong with saying, "He obviously meant a lot to his family and friends -- I feel terrible for them. It's a sad loss." We can be sad, and express that sadness, for the people who DID love that person, without being phony and going on as though we thought that person was the best thing since sliced bread.



I don't like to speak ill of the dead, as a general rule. But nor am I going to make an asshole out to be a saint, just because they've shucked this mortal coil.

[deleted account]

I believe that if someone was a complete a**hole in life, why should we act like he/she was a saint just because they are dead? Or even if we didn't like a person while they were alive, why pretend we loved them once they have died? It's hypocritical. If a person doesn't deserve the respect as living people then they don't deserve it as dead people either. Sorry if that is a bit blunt but that's my take on it :-)

Charlie - posted on 04/12/2010

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Ive had quiet a few friends pass away and its always the same drama queens who barely know the deceased who run around causing a scene , one of them in particular loves to say things like " im so depressed , im gonna kill myself " HOW SELFISH IS THAT ! literally on the same day of the persons funeral and then they would run around acting as if they were their best friends , it makes me sick , i think its the exact opposite of having respect , its completely Disrespectful to the family and the friends who had REAL connection to the deceased .

Kayle - posted on 04/12/2010

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A movie that shows exactly what your talking about is "Worlds Greatest Dad" it has Robin Williams in it. (this isn't a movie for kids though at all) But I do think its disrespectful to act as if you loved the person while they are dead but when they were alive you couldn't stand them.

Jaime - posted on 04/12/2010

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I've actually thought about this myself because I have never had anyone close to me die. Members of my family have passed away, but none close enough to me that I could discern whether they were a great, loving person or a total douche...so I have always remained neutral. I agree with you that some people can take it over the top, but I don't know if I would go as far as to say that it's disrespectful...unless it is an obvious, contrived effort. I have been in a few situations where I had absolutely no idea what to say to someone at or before a funeral and all that came out of my mouth was "that really sucks"...lol, how's that for sympathy?

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