Dead People

It’s funny how we treat dead people. There’s this deep layer of respect that we don’t give people in life, as if it makes up for it?


Real life doesn’t fit fantasies of perfection but I don’t think telling a real story about a dead person is disrespectful. I think they can be perceived as disrespectful when it’s the story that shatters a listeners perception of the fantasy they held the dead person to be.


But that can happen before death too – ask anyone who has had abuse or a toxic relationship how shattering it can be when people won’t see the person as that way, only perfect. This isn’t new. So what is the problem? That the dead person can’t talk back? People were saying that it was bad that people said bad things about the Bond guy who died and it’s like…yeah I don’t care if he’s alive or dead, not gonna respect someone who advocated publicly for hitting women if they didn’t shut up when he wanted them to.


I don’t know why we assume dead people lose a personality and have to be portrayed one singular way. Dying does not turn a bad person into a good person. I’ll haunt the shit out of people if they make me generic in death.


I walk a lot in cemeteries as there’s not a lot of paved footpaths near me and at least cemeteries have roads. I can’t afford to take mis-steps and hurt another part of me. Anyway, the outcome of that is that I’ve read a lot of gravestones in recent years ago…. fuck they are boring. I write off some in the older part of the cemetery as “of their time” – for example the “WIFE OF” but never/rarely seeing “HUSBAND OF”. It’s roll your eyes expected sexism.


But what can you do to change it? What can you do with pre determined boring sets of character limits? And with the funeral industry being dodgy and lame as fuck, what chance do you have of your wishes being respected? I’ve heard stories of “can’t play that music” because the funeral director deems it not appropriate for a funeral. Um, not your choice.


I’m not sure what you can do to stand out though. But I guess then the question is why do we even try to fit an entire life into a small plaque? Meaning and impact can’t be made that small. Why don’t we try to really cover who people truly are in a long lasting way? The funeral doesn’t count, that’s for the alive.


Dead People

12 Replies to “Dead People”

  1. Hmmmm I read this post, nodded a bit and read it again…and nodded a bit more. Funerals absolutely are for the living – as are memorial stones. I read somewhere once that revisionist history is the reason why they can’t name streets and parks after living people & why they have to wait (or should wait) for a few years after they die in case they’re no longer seen as squeaky clean or heroic as they once were.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      That’s a really good point about why we wait … but as some things in the US showed this year (or last year? Time is blurry), it doesn’t seem like they’ll revise it once they’re up 🙁

  2. I think the whole funeral/plaque is far more for the living than those who have died. We’ve been through it a lot lately and it’s not fun at all trying to fit so many characters on a small piece of metal. I agree that once people die it’s as if you can’t say anything bad about them when sometimes it should be said. Thought provoking words for #lifethisweek

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      There will be some inevitably upcoming for my husbands grandparents – they are well into their 90s. But I believe they’ve been fairly involved in choosing a lot of things ahead of time.

  3. I think the funeral and the stone is definitely for those who have been left behind – it’s a ceremonial form of closure, I guess. When my time is nigh, I hope I get a good send off and that everyone has a bit of a knees up afterwards!

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      I like the celebratory aspect much more than the mourning, but of course people will feel what they feel at the time!

  4. I still remember when I was writing my father’s eulogy for my brother to read I had a couple of things in there that my mum / brother said “You can’t say that!” and one of them was something like… “He may not have been perfect but….”

    I’d like to think people would use humour at my funeral – I mean, it has to reflect ‘me’ doesn’t it?

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      It’s interesting how we approach these things, isn’t it? I wonder if it’s part of grief that we see only the perfection?

  5. Great read Vanessa and I too think we don’t want to be eulogising people who were not the nicest. However, I recall being at my Uncle’s funeral – he had suicided and he knew it would be my dad who found him (long story) and I was angry for some time about that. Took me a long time to realise the man was incredibly sad, disempowered and ashamed. Dad and I have talked about it too. That helps.

    We are a pretty practical lot and neither B nor I want any memorial places. My Dad is the same, my mum’s ashes went into garden pots for a while. We remember in our own ways. Oh and Dad (97) already has told me and my bro about the where/who of his funeral…and I still have the USB with some of his 90th birthday memories. …..

    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week, and as we approach the changing month to April, may you have some good weather where it’s enjoyable to be outside. Next week, the optional prompt is the second of the Self Care stories. Are you self caring enough? See you on Monday 5 April for #lifethisweek link up. Denyse.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      I am thankful that my inlaws are being very proactive on this as I think there will be little decision to be made at the time.

  6. It’s definitely for the living from what I know. In terms of my family though, you just cremate and it’s done. There are no plaques or anything due to the religious beliefs. Maybe that’s a good thing. I always think of the Chaser parody from years ago where they did this song about how all jerks turn out to be ‘good’ after death.

    1. Vanessa Smith says: Reply

      It’s interesting when I wander the cemetery to see the unmarked sites – but when Ben’s dad died his dads church harassed the shit out of him to get a plaque – it was all in order as part of the funeral deal but they didn’t believe him somehow? It was really weird.

      I need to find that parody! Sounds up my alley 🙂

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