Don't talk Ill of the Dead

I’ve always disliked when people canonize the dead. It’s like the moment someone passes away, all their flaws and shortcomings are instantly erased from everyone’s memories and they acquire an automatic “Saint of All Saints” status.

"Don’t talk ill of the dead”, we instinctively listen to in the back of our minds, as a warning sign which, should we dare to speak out loud anything at all that may be perceived as soiling the holy reputation of the deceased, we would be placing a curse on ourselves.

So when a person dies, all of a sudden, a bunch of people that couldn’t care less, or that held various degrees of antipathy towards that person, start to act and talk as if they where a close confidant or the biggest cheerleader of the now absent “greatest person who ever walked the face of this earth”.

The “lost person” becomes a role model, a flawless hero, a champion, the better one amongst us, who shouldn’t have died. And consequently, their memory, their character, their story becomes public property, with many ‘devotees' perceiving as their right to claim the ‘martyr’ as their own.

I have seen this happen in my own family time and time again. This has annoyed me so much in the pass, but now that the “New Saint on the Block” is my husband, it plainly infuriates me.

There is a degree of regret, of guilt, of lost opportunities that comes with the passing of someone. I understand that so well. And there is the need, for those of us who are left behind, of comfort ourselves and seek to focus on the good things. After all, death does put life and some many of our selfish pettiness into perspective. 

But it’s not helpful to act, talk and think about the person who dies as if he or she was a kind of superhuman, better than the rest of us mere mortals. I find that this twisted perception is actually detrimental, especially for the immediate family of the person died.

I love my husband. I still love my husband. Some ways I think the pain of his sudden death has magnified the love I feel for him. I miss him with an intensity that makes my chest hurt to the point that I struggle to breathe.

Its impossible to express into words the deep longing I feel for him, the intensity of this grief that I can feel in the marrow of my bones, the piercing unfulfilled desire to  see him, touch him, hug him, say I love you into his ear, even if for just one more time, one more minute.

My husband was a great man. He was larger than life and he occupied a huge space in my life and I my heart. He was kind and funny and generous. He was a wonderful father and a man of real character and true humility But he was also stubborned and terrible with money. He was grumpy when he was hungry and it would take him several days to get over a small argument. He left his socks lying around the house, he made a lot of noise when he eat and he farted the stinkiest farts. He also irritated me, annoyed me, hurt my feelings, misunderstood me. He made me cry and he made me feel guilty. And I did the same to him.

We disagreed a lot. We fought a lot.

He deeply wounded me, and he vastly loved me.

He was no saint. He was no demon. He was just human. The human I shared my whole life with, the good and the bad, the health and the sickness, the abundance and the lack, the joys and the sorrows.

But not this sorrow I carry now. This sorrow he unwillingly inflicted on me, I must carry alone.

Till death do us part, isn’t it?

I resent him for dying, for leaving me alone to raise our daughter, for making me cry every night in that empty bed. Rationally it makes no sense but my heart is not rational.

And yet I am grateful that I was loved by an imperfect man who saw all my qualities. I am grateful that I was loved by a man with so many great qualities who saw all my flaws and imperfections and chose to stick by me no matter what.

My husband was no saint, but he did love me unconditionally. And that is a wonderful thing.


Tatiana HotereComment