Dead people are all so amazing

I can’t be the only one to notice this.  Or am i just the first person to write about it, or have the chutzpah to talk about it?

IMG_0038Every person I have talked to recently about someone who has passed makes that person out to be a saint, a mensch, a pillar of society. They were all wonderful people. They never said a bad word about anyone, everyone loved them, they always wanted to help others – they were one of my closest friends. They gave so much of themselves, they were always there for me, their family always came first, they were always there to help anyone in need. They volunteered, they coached, they mentored. They were so successful in business and gave so much back to the community and everyone around them.  Holy crap, they were amazing people.

Now I am not mean, or cruel, or un-sympathetic – but really? And the more tragic the death, the more amazing they were. I have never been to a funeral or a wake or visited a  house of shiva where they talked badly about the deceased. Yes, it is common courtesy not to bad mouth the dead, but why does it have to start at the funeral home or the cemetery – this is my point.

I hear people talk about other people. They talk about that they are cheap – they never pick up the check when we go out for lunch or dinner, they never put on a fair tip for the waitress, they never pay their fair share. But as soon as they are dead they were the most generous, giving person around.

They talk about how they pushed their children too hard, they shouted at soccer and hockey games, ever got thrown out of a few games. They berated the coaches and the refs as well as the opposing players. They criticized the teachers and the principal about how inept they were. But as soon as they die, they were the most supportive caring parents who were always there to support their children and their teams. They were always ready to run the carpool and support the school.

IMG_0060They talk about how they work late all the time, and work on the weekends. They didn’t spend enough time at home, they didn’t go to school plays or teacher meetings. They went on long business trips and spent too much time at the club with friends and not at home. But as soon as they die, their families meant everything to them and they could not give their spouse or children enough love, nor spend enough time with them, or take them on enough vacations.

For children – they talk about how they don’t listen to their parents, they have a tattoo or for goodness sake a piercing.  How wild they are, how poor athletes they are and how they should not be on the “A” team. They drink, they smoke, they cut classes and drive fast.  But when the unimaginable happens, and their young child passes, they become the most compassionate and loving child, they were so funny and understanding. Everyone loved them and they had so many friends. Their teachers and coaches loved them. They talked to us for hours and were so in tune to what they wanted in life.

I could go on, but you get my drift.

Now there is a certain compassion that we all have when someone passes away, and I don’t want to disparage anyone who has passed away. But my point it this – why does someone have to die for us to see the good that they are? Why do we first see the bad and the negative and dark side of people when they are alive, and then all of a sudden they are dead and they become saints? Do we have to talk about people like we are on Real Housewives all the time?

IMG_00761We are all guilty of it, I have just become so much more aware of it being in bereavement groups now. Every child or sibling we talk about is almost perfect. that is why I enjoy these groups to some degree. They are negative in terms of why we are there, but we mostly talk in positive terms of anyone. We very rarely, if ever, say something ill about our children, or about others. They were all wonderful, cheerful, amazingly smart and loved individuals. Now I know Andrew was all of these things and more. But he was also short tempered sometimes, he drove too fast and a little reckless occasionally, left the house without saying goodbye once in a while. He and I fought about some stupid things here and there, he hung up on me once in a while (never his mom though), and was not really good with time management or showing respect for some people who he felt did not deserve respect. You would already know these things if you really knew him, or talked to me about him before we lost him.

So once again, what’s my point? Now that we talk about our lost ones in my bereavement groups, and I talk to so many other bereaved parents, spouses and siblings, I have learned to talk positively about everyone. I don’t think about their dark sides, nor do I seek it out. I don’t talk about what was bad or negative, or what I perceive as a person’s faults. I try to find something nice to say, I ask about what they were like, I look for the light and the sunshine – not the darkness.

Everyone has faults and a dark side – but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t talk about that so much, and more about the positive and what that person contributed to our lives as well as others?

And let’s face it, how do we want others to talk about us?

14 thoughts on “Dead people are all so amazing

  1. Don Begier

    I like your perspective. Our 17 yr old son died last Labor Day, and as you state, we ave definitely focused on his finer attributes. However, we even find laughter in remembering his faults. I guess it is because we would love to see him and hold him even if he was being a typical self-centered teenager!

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  2. Ned

    Thanks for that reality check! I guess I’d like to be honest to myself about my negative reactions but choose to support the better nature of others in word and deed, as I would hope they would do for me.

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  3. Sally

    Thanks for your thoughtful perspective!

    I get what you are driving at, Perry, My Jill could be very aggravating to deal with on so much nonsense, but what I wouldn’t give to be “wrangling” with her over that nonsense now!

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    1. MOLLY

      I love learning from warm and intelligent members of my extended family.

      Thank you Perry for helping all of us make life more understandable and beautiful.

      Hugs to you and Dorothy and Nicole, always,

      Molly

      Reply
  4. Jonell Restivo

    Perry,

    You are so right. I have become more aware lately on the news when someone gets shot and dies. The mother and friends always describe the person as wonderful, non violent, giving and never showing any signs of having a violent nature.

    Meantime they have an arrest record the length of Long Island, recently incarcerated on a ten year murder sentence and recently released. Even if a video was recorded of an actual theft where the person was violent in the store and walked out with the stolen item.

    Directly after the robbery he was shot and killed by police for something else. Yet everyone interviewed defended him and only talked about how wonderful he was.

    Saying how great and wonderful a person was after they passed needs to be based on truth. When there is proof of a lifetime of violence and anger and disregard for people other than immediate friends and family, a reality check is important. I am so bothered and insulted listening to false praises.

    Because the reality is not everyone is wonderful. For me it dilutes the true value of people that were truly special who added to this world to make it a better place.

    Life is as a checking account making regular deposits is essential. Some people live life only withdrawing that eventually catches up with bad results.

    I remember an old James Cagney movie where he was on death row minuets before his execution and his mother was spending her last moments with him crying and telling him how he was a good boy and how much she loved him.

    I understand a love between a parent and a child. But our lives reflect who we really are by the deeds that we perform regardless if no one ever knows either.

    I never had the privilege of knowing Andrew, but I have been following your loss from the beginning.

    You have so beautifully through photos designed a tapestry of his life that truly reflected how special he was. Fueled by the depth of your pain and processing your grief into an ongoing unique passionate love story that will keep his memory alive, and deserving so. Bravo!

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  5. Andrea D

    Thanks for this Perry, as always you strike a chord with your writing. I like thinking of people’s less stellar qualities, because then they feel more real to me, more dimensional and therefore still accessible. This way I can grumble about their short-comings, laugh at them and feel less sad.

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  6. Leslie Hutton

    Hey Perry.
    I too have noticed this. And I get it. I think that focusing on the positive is always a good thing but I prefer to temper it with a bit of reality, Beth was a good kid but she was far from perfect. I do bring up some of her faults especially around RJ. Hard enough to compete with a sibling but having a sibling who has passed makes it even harder. It is also ok to share stories of less than perfect moments-without feeling like people are staring at you, My take on your thoughts is twofold-i need to focus more on peoples positive traits here on earth and it is ok to share those moments where Beth ( or my brother or anyone of my many friends and relatives) was not well lets just say perfect,

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  7. Beth

    Hi Perry,
    I was so sorry to hear of your loss. What you are doing is amazing and I hope it gives you and your family the peace to endure the most agonizing of pain. I cannot imagine the grief you must feel every day. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I know Andrew is looking down on you and will always be with you.
    Peace,
    Beth

    Reply
  8. Adam

    You are so right…. probably the first to write about it, but not just after my Dad’s passing with all the praises I realize it’s with all the special ones we’ve lost.. .you nailed it on this one… Adam.. hope you are doing well & rest of the Grosser’s

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  9. Deirdre

    Thank you Mr. Grosser for sending me the link to your blog. I hope you will be able to make it into a book. It is compelling reading, with many important messages for those who have experienced great loss, and for those who haven’t.
    I remember Nicole well and was happy to see her smiling in her Salve Regina Hockey uniform. Please tell her I said hello!

    Thank you for sharing your most personal reflections, in order to help others.

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  10. IA

    Perry,
    Your losing Andrew at such a young age is beyond devastating. What you have are so many wonderful memories in the short time you had Andrew in your life. The crying will always happen when you least expect it but, also the smiling thinking about all the wonderful times you had together. I find it interesting about what Andrew must feel looking down from heaven and seeing all the sadness you are all going through. Let’s think that he is also thankful for all you have done for him on earth and wants you all to never forget him and move on till you are all together again in the next world.

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  11. Marjorie

    Hi! While what you have said is probably the case most often, I’ve had two very difficult family members pass away, and when 1 of them died, family members couldn’t think of one nice thing to say about him, or even one pleasant memory to share with the Rabbi who was conducting the funeral. The attendees at the funeral were not aware of this, however. Few speakers at funerals say anything bad about the dead.

    So while it may appear that the dead person “was so wonderful” to friends and acquaintances, those who knew him/her well are keenly aware of who they really were.

    Reply

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