It beats me why people feel obliged to glorify others when they pass on, irrespective of who they really were alive. It totally escapes my understanding why at a funeral, amazing lies are told of those who were nothing but trouble when alive, from thieves to murderers to liars, to perpetrators of all injustices known to man.
I am not perfect. But I like to believe that I make conscious choices while I am alive. When I decide to hate, I consciously make that choice. When my relatives languish in poverty as I entertain campus girls with free beer, I make that choice. When I go around town sleeping with anything in a skirt to quench my thirst, as the mother of my children AND my children sleep on empty stomachs, sobbing into their mother’s worn skirt, I consciously make that choice. When I rob citizens of their deserved rights, and hire people to kill a foe because he made malicious statements about me, that IS a choice I make, consciously. With my brains intact. In place.
This is why it saddens me that as humans we feel obliged to suddenly say ‘nice’ things about a person once he/she dies, someone who was far from being good to us. We will stand up at funerals and say how amazing that uncle or auntie or cousin was, yet they watched us struggle to pay school fees, taking up small jobs to cover what our poor parents were not able to, as they changed cars in the city. One time they even came to visit, sitting uncomfortably on the mat we spread for seats in the house, looking disgusted at the sight of sheer poverty, shaking their heads like they couldn’t believe humans could survive in such an environment, then promising to help support ‘the young one to school’. The young one was you, and he never came back. There you are now, at his funeral, lying about how amazing a person he was. You feel you have to, right? Wrong! You owe them nothing, same way they owed you nothing in their lifetime. And so you won’t hold it against them, but again you won’t stand up at their funerals and lie.
You shouldn’t be made to feel like you HAVE TO speak at these funerals, that you HAVE TO say something, and it HAS TO be nice.
Again, while we are alive, we make choices. We create our history, the story that we shall leave behind. This story may not be the same for everyone. Others will have good memories of you, while others probably won’t remember you so fondly. Which is okay, no one is perfect. But it is wrong to assume that everyone has a good story of the other, which is what we do at funerals. We assume that all people related to, or were friends with the deceased would like to share fond memories they had together. Some people have nothing to say!
And hey, while you still live, if you’d really like people to say nice things about you now and after you are gone, be the influence. Be awesome today. You can’t be to all of us, of course, and no one should make you feel like you have to. Same way no one should make us feel like we have to say colourful things about you, now or ever.
That’s just life.