Social Question


Why do we say how wonderful people are only after they have died?

Asked by MRSHINYSHOES (13966points) October 22nd, 2011

This morning I read in the paper about a woman who was murdered in her home. She was a teacher. Some people said that she was the most caring person in the world who often provided free snacks to her students. Others remarked that she was a wonderful mother to her two children. Her relatives said she was a kind, unselfish individual.

This seems like a very simple and trite question, but have you ever wondered why we pour their hearts out about others only after they have died? Why can’t we tell them how special they are when they’re alive? Does it take their deaths to make us do that?

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11 Answers

chyna's avatar

Good point and a reminder to tell people in your lives that you care about how special they are to you.
Also, people do this because we tend to elevate people to a higher level after they have died.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t. I have a philosophy that if I think something positive about a person, I try to remember to tell them. People are sometimes taken aback when I do this but I would rather say “I love your positive attitude” or “You have a beautiful smile!” I have written notes to people telling them how much I value them too. Especially to my children on special birthdays. I think I do this because my parents died when I was young and I never want my children to question whether I was proud of them or to wonder what they meant to me.

I should mention I got a card from a friend the other day in which she told me how much she valued me as a person. I cannot express how much that card touched me and surprised me. I intend to try to remember to do the same for other people.

lillycoyote's avatar

I try to make sure that the people I love know that I love and appreciate them but we all have a tendency to take things, to take the people in our lives for granted. It is our nature, I think. I hope the murdered woman knew that she was loved and appreciate and people thought she was wonderful when she was alive. It would be a shame if she died not knowing that. But we only read about these people in the paper or hear about them on the news. I don’t think everyone only says how wonderful people are only after they die. These things should be reminders to all of us to tell the people we love that we love them because we never know when the day will come when it is too late.

njnyjobs's avatar

I have been advised by those in the know that it is better to talk about the merits of the deceased than the manner the person passed. Such statements are actually for the benefit of the loved ones left behind, to ease the pain of the loss.

bkcunningham's avatar

I really make an effort to tell people how much I appreciate them in my life. I make an effort to say something nice to strangers. I think it gives meaning and understanding to someone’s grief when they note the good parts of someone’s life or personality when someone they know has died and left that shocked, dull, empty, painful feeling in their life.

My brother-in-law said it best. One of the oldtimers in his hometown died from a tragic house fire. He was apparently one of those people who was disliked by eveyone and would complain if he was hung with a new rope. All the town’s people were passing out compliments and elevating the man to the status of a saint after news of the fire and his death got around.

My brother-in-law said the guy was a SOB his entire life. Just because he’s dead doesn’t change that fact.

CWOTUS's avatar

It’s not that those things are unsaid before a person dies, but they aren’t published in the newspaper until that happens (or the person wins an award or flips out and kills half the kids in the class).

Don’t worry, we’ll be sure to mention your shoes. I hope someone mentions “he was a pretty good speller” when I’m gone.

gondwanalon's avatar

Somethings and feelings are expressed without words. My friends and family know how I feel about them and I’ve got a good idea how they feel about me. There is no need for people to pour their hearts out to each other. We do it for the dead because it helps the us to feel good and to carry on.

When someone dies it really isn’t a good idea to go over the negative aspects of their life. Friends and family already feel bad enough without adding to their pain with negativity. So what if we tend to go overboard with the positive aspects of the diseased? If it helps the living to cope and feel better then so be it.

Berserker's avatar

Yeah, funny how sometimes, a corpse is more important as a corpse than when it was as a live person. I denno why people do this. Regret maybe? To not have expressed oneself when the person was alive? Some social thing that people just do? When my dad died, people said things like that and it really angered me, because it seemed so superficial and staged. So I guess I feel kinda biased, but I do consider my emotions at the time and how they may have imprinted lasting and false interpretations in me.
I guess it’s kinda like getting drunk, or like, the impact that this person isn’t going to be around anymore. @gondwanalon‘s answer is making a lot of sense to me though. Never thought about none of that much before.

ratboy's avatar

Death greatly improves some people.

Ayesha's avatar

People realize what they had. Some start taking things for granted.

PhiNotPi's avatar

During life, we can easily point out a person’s tiniest flaws and don’t take as much interest in remembering the person’t tiniest strengths. After death, we never think about how the person’s weaknesses no longer exist (not really losses), but we can point out the loss associated with the person’s strengths no longer existing. My first thought is that this sounds similar to observation bias, but a better way to describe this is as a focus on the negative side of things.

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