Friday, June 25, 2010

to be on a pedestal

whenever people speak of the deceased they always seem to sound so unlike they were when they were alive. often people make them sound like they were the biggest tzadikim. it always makes me wonder if they are really talking about the person they say they are memorializing. i certainly dont remember them that way. certainly no one wants to memorialize someone in a bad light, but why fictionalize them so much? sometimes i want to shake people and say that i wish i had known the person they are talking about because the deceased that i had known by that name was not all that. of course i never would do this. but i sure feel like it. isnt there something in between? even when we speak of avraham , moshe and david hamelech we speak about their shortcomings and we still regard them as nothing less than tzaddikim.


Devorah said...

That is a very good point. However, people do like to focus on the positive points of someone close to them who passed away instead of focusing on their negative character traits. This way, their memories are full of good, happy thoughts.

I also once heard that when it comes to a funeral or in general speaking about someone who passed away, we are supposed to stress the positive things the person did and it is even okay to exaggerate using words like, "s/he always did..." or "s/he was constanly helping othere, encouraging friends..." etc.

There is also a concept of not speaking badly of a dead person because it can arouse bad judgement on them in the next world.

In any case, I'd rather remember the good things about my brother a"h than dwell on any aveiros he may have done. Yes, we are all human but I want to remember him in the most positive way because that makes me so much happier when I think about him like that.

Laura said...

I know what you mean and that has always bothered me too. it seem by making them seem more righteous and perfect than they were and discredits they good that was actually in them I think perhaps it is partially and cultural thing too.

I also think perhaps it helps to bring some closure. when people die they leave a gap - and sometimes it can be a large gap. b/c of our imperfections (such as arguments, bad habits, even past sins) when we die we leave pain for others, even if it was unintentional. When a person dies we will never be able hear I"m sorry form them or tell them we are sorry. We will never be able to hug them and let them know that despite their shortcoming we love them. etc etc etc. and so a way of bringing emotional closure is to causally forget the bad and only remember the good of a person.

personally this doesn't work for me. it makes me feel like I'm lying. But I'm a realist like that. as much as I love a good story or novel, there is nothing I can't stand more than beating around the bush or illusions. I'm happy to remember a person fro who they are and all that entails, just as I would have lived with them if they were still here.