If you’ve ever been to a funeral, you know that no one ever says mean things about people that die. If you’ve ever been anywhere else, you know that almost everyone says mean things about people that are alive.
What gives? Why the change of heart and sudden tsunami of love? Is it total bull? Is everyone just selfishly lying to try to make themselves feel better and atone with the dead?
I say- no. The reason everyone is so nice at when someone dies is that once they’re gone, you realize what they always were: a human being, just like you. And you realize that they deserve the kind of wholehearted love you want for yourself. Death does not cause us to lie about those we have lost in hopes of making them into something better- it is the one thing that can finally get us to see the beauty in one another and love like we should every day.
Death is the great humanizer. It brings ultimate stillness, causing you to look squarely into the eyes of the deceased. Sometimes it is in the chapel of a hushed funeral – sometimes it is alone in your car. But in those sad, powerful moments between the living and the dead, you are forced to consider a person long enough to finally appreciate their humanity without reservation.
When a person dies, you don’t stop saying mean thing that weren’t true and start saying nice things that are- you simply look for the best in the person you lost. Because just like you, they were a person with loves and successes and struggles and failures. As you stare at their soul in the silence, everything you ever complained about or got annoyed with is no longer important. Just as you hope someone would understand you, you can finally understand them. The negative suspicions and general apathy fall away, leaving only the beauty.
Sit in the pews of a funeral, and you forget about how someone used to be awkward and unsocial. Instead you remember how they always smiled when they saw you smile. You forget about what they said that one time (now you can see they could have had a bad day). Remember how selfless they were to their neighbors. Forget and understand the bad- it doesn’t matter now. Love the good. Because you realize that this person was just that- a person. And everyone deserves to be loved for the best things in them, not disliked for the worst.
It shouldn’t take death to make you realize someone is a real person. It shouldn’t take a funeral to make you look for the most beautiful and unique parts of a soul. You should always love those around you with the love you see at funerals. Next time you think of someone in your life, think of what you would say about them at their funeral- and love them accordingly.