Why Do We Say Nice Things About Dead People?
Wouldn't it be lovely to get on with everyone? Life would be so much sweeter. However, it's somewhat unusual to find anyone who gets on with just everybody, and has never fallen out with a friend, or had a nasty word to say about somebody.
And this applies to even the nicest of people! Sometimes people just don't get on, and there are many reasons why we might be negative about another person. Here are just a few:
Maybe there's a clash of personalities and we just don't get along with one another from the start.
Maybe we disagree with their views.
We may not like the other person because they're different to us in some way, and this breeds suspicion and mistrust. (In this situation, if we only got to know them better then maybe we would become the best of friends!)
Perhaps we resent them because of something they've done or something nasty that they've said about us, our family or our friends.
Or we've offended them in some way (whether we realise it or not!).
Maybe we are jealous of them for some reason, or we look down on them or we don't approve of the way they live their life, or there has been a feud between our family and theirs for generations, and we don't even know what it was about because it was before we were born!
For these reasons (and probably many many more), there will always be people we don't like. And there will always be people who don't like us. Sadly, it's a fact of life.
But then the person we've been negative about dies, and we no longer have negative things to say about them. Why is this? Here are some thoughts.
1. We've always been taught that we shouldn't speak ill of the dead.
2. For the sake of their grieving family we say only good things about this person, even if we're still secretly harbouring resentment towards them.
3. However much we hated someone in life, we (hopefully) wouldn't wish death on them, and when it happens it's a wake-up call as to how petty and unnecessary our grievances really were.
4. Now that this person's dead, our negativity has no 'target', so we might feel that there's no longer any reason for it.
5. Many cultures and religions greatly respect the dead.
6. Now that this person is dead they will have learnt something that we mere mortals can only guess at; they know what happens to us after we die. And if we believe in such things, we may also imagine that they know the answers to all of life's questions, and the meaning of life itself! They have become all-knowing super-beings. And we can't fail to respect and be in awe of such power.
7. If we believe in life after death, then we may also believe that at death we repent for our sins and that our soul is cleansed. So however nasty we used to consider this person to be, and however much they wronged us, perhaps we now think of them as a good!
8. We may have secretly believed that one day we'd resolve whatever problems we had. Now that our sparring partner is dead we've missed our chance, and we just feel regret. Perhaps we may compensate for this by saying nice things about them.
9. Maybe we secretly enjoyed the rivalry, and now we miss it!
10. Perhaps we secretly liked the person all along...