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Eulogy For The Undeserving
An Insatiable Appetite For Glowingly Eulogizing Brutes
It is said that you are not to speak ill of the dead. In fact, I oftentimes wonder if some of us inferred that we are therefore to lie to make the bad apples look good, at whatever cost. I have never been to a funeral outside of my country, so I definitely need to add this to my 'to-do' list. Nonetheless, I suspect that once funerals have the culture of eulogizing and otherwise paying tributes to the dead, it might not be all that different in most other countries.
Fortunately or unfortunately, not only was I raised in not one, but two volatile communities; but I also work with society's condemned, otherwise incarcerated, as well as non-custodial offenders and their families. While I have never attended a funeral for a 'client'; theirs is the kind that is easy to find in the communities where I grew up and the kind which always seems to be glowingly eulogized.
'Soon To Be Eulogized Brutes' Population
I have also long suspected that some of the criminals who should be imprisoned are still in open society, wreaking havoc. There is even a possibility that some have mastered the art of concealing their evidence; but I cannot say they are "smart" as they usually end up on the seven o'clock news and make up the 'soon to be eulogized brutes' population.
Non-Criminal Brutes And Well-Wishers
My current grouse is however, with the friends, family and 'well wishers' who remain behind after their criminals become 'dearly departed'. Don't get me wrong, there are many non-criminals who were also terrible people, albeit in different ways. These people also make up the kind that my grouse is directed toward; the undeserving of glowing eulogies. These can include abusive parents and relatives-turned-enemies, among others.
Possible Reasons For Great Eulogies
What then is the reason why we tempt the Superior Being (for those of us who believe in one) by lying about these brutes in front of the pastor or in church, etcetera when eulogizing them or otherwise paying tributes? My guess is:
- to save face/family reputation
- out of shame
- to secure a spot in the will or intestate 'spoils'
- to get a rare chance to speak in public/at a large gathering
- to show off the latest hair style or fashion
- to prove status, especially if none exists
- to console the grieving parties
- to invoke tears from mourners/gatherers
A Celebration Akin To Weddings and Christenings
Having done a bit of informal research, I have discovered that while people accept the fact that we have a tendency to glowingly eulogize undeserving people; there is also a strong belief that the culture of not speaking ill of the dead is held to high regard. Some people feel downright offended at the fact that others would want to be honest at a funeral. Others are of the opinion that, like weddings, christenings and such celebratory events, funerals are to be kept happy and upbeat. Never mind the fact that the one being eulogized is undeserving of praise or even remembrance.
Euphemisms and Generalizations
On the other hand, there are those who feel that we should not lie at funerals, whether by omission or commission; but should instead use euphemisms or otherwise be as general or evasive as possible. In so doing, our eulogy for the undeserving would be pretty much a cut-and-paste version of the lives they lived.
If you are placed in a predicament where you have to eulogize someone you feel is undeserving or was an enemy, some recommendations are as follows:
- Generalize/ use generic phrases
- Talk about the good
- Talk about when they were young
- Talk about the family left behind
- Consider the feelings of the grieving family members
- Talk about forgiveness
- Talk about lessons learned from the deceased, whether intentional or not
- Consult with the family on what they want to be included
- Talk about celebrating life as opposed to mourning death
- Talk about the love they left behind and things they left undone
- Talk about the special talents or attributes of the deceased
- Be honest without addressing the bad things
- Talk about strengthening of character and conviction of those left behind because of deceased's faults
Playing On Others' Emotions
Some of us have mastered the art of playing on others' emotions, but whatever the reason, if you were a brute in life; you still are a brute in death. It would however seem like a better option to not delve on the negatives at funerals, if even for the sake of the grieving family. Notwithstanding, because you choose not to address the negative is no reason to lie or speak glowingly of the undeserving in your tribute. A major annoyance derived from this practice is the fact that people who didn't know the deceased will feel like they missed out on something, when in fact it was probably a blessing in disguise, having never met them.