Using Grief – Religion and Politics

These days, the idea of an open funeral occurring at all is pretty much unheard of—unless the person dying is some sort of icon or leader. This in itself, is bad enough.

What makes things far worse, is that events of those for whom public funerals are allowed, have in some cases, recently been used as excuses to forward political agendas.

It doesn’t matter at all whether the person having passed on is male or female, black or white, conservative, liberal or other, or how they identify—whether or not I agree with self identification.

The fact is, using the death of another to support a political, or largely even social agenda, is in my view, a horribly heinous act.

This is even more true for those who would attempt to capitalize on the passing of someone with whom they disagree than with someone whose positions the abusers endorse with full throats.

Simply stated, it’s even worse when the one having ceased to be, is disparaged for gain of some type.

When for example, a well known man died as a—very likely partial—result of contracting a disease the which he chose not to hide behind a mask to keep from contracting, has people yukking it up over his choice and the result, it’s hard to hold any good opinion of those so doing. This is particularly true if they belittle him, directly after the man in question has shuffled off the mortal coil.

There’re times to talk about things like that, but the immediate aftermath of the moment in question is assuredly not among them as a rule.

Chances are exceptionally strong there’ll be plenty of time to discuss the good and bad of a person’s life choices; to laud or count unfortunate those things they decided to do.

Funerals and similar events—wakes and other such activities among them—are not the place or the time.

By no means am I arguing that the individual can’t be eulogized. I’m not trying to say he or she cannot be remembered, for the fine things he or she has accomplished.

I’m not even attempting to indicate that people can’t make it clear the person in question spurred them or others, to victories won or great actions taken.

All of this is right and proper, if for no other reason than that it helps to bring the beginnings of peace and healing to the family, friends and acquaintances of the too-soon-dearly-departed.

That said, just as it’s unreasonable to speak ill of the dead, using their passing as a stepping stone to political or social action is equally so.

Keep in mind, I count it pure foolishness to say the legacy of individuals long, or even relatively recently passed, should not cause people to act in the spirit of those things he or she supported and loved.

My intent rather, is to say that memorial services and the like are not the place for that sort of thing.

Nor really, is the time directly following them.

When I die, though at this point I suspect not too many will care, it’s my sincere hope those who do will be allowed to grieve my demise with fondness and love.

I hope they’ll be permitted to think on me, and on my love for them in such a way as to be buoyed and held above the surging sea of sorrow for a time.

I want for them to be able to continue living, and the hope is, over the course of time, to have the pain of the memory fade, while the positive aspects of our lives together continue to bring them periodic moments of remembrance.

I am but a small fish in a very sizable pond. If I desire these things for me, how much more do you suppose I count them things to be attained for those who are greatly more important?

If you’re recalling the immensity of a person you admired in the period after they’re gone, remember what you say, and even what you imply, may make their way on to others who are doing likewise. Your statements may directly bear on their lives. They may be engulfed in sorrow, or grief as a result of something you say or do.

This is true, of course, of someone long passed. That said, the chances of a strong reaction in that scenario, are far smaller. Even so, I urge people to refuse to speak of those no longer with us in unkind ways.

The person is gone, and where their legacy may remain—for good or evil—one needn’t potentially cause additional pain by evoking images or memories of that one in order even to combat or support that legacy.

The fight in question, where one exists, is on the basis of ideas. As such arguing, for example, against the concepts they espoused, if they’re ones with which one disagrees, isn’t the problem. Bringing memories of the individual themselves back to cause undue hardship, is.

When another is no longer among the living, he or she may still have an effect. Even so, that can generally be dealt with by praise or disparagement of ideas rather than individuals.

I get wishing to edify by bringing up heroic memories of the dead. I also understand making it clear that someone no longer among us, did evil and shouldn’t be celebrated or emulated. As a rule though, these actions do little to make a better world.

Changing how we think, and how we act, and helping others to do likewise are the place at which improvement can be found.

Never forget, even men you count evil to the point of malignance, likely had family members, friends and associates who loved them. Your choosing to tear them down in their absence, if it’s known of by those people, cannot help but cause them unnecessary pain.

The main point I wanted to make is this. If you choose to use the funeral, memorial, wake or other near-death event to aggrandize yourself, to push a political or social message, or to otherwise seek personal (or even perceived public) gain, in my view, you’ve made the wrong choice.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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