Warning: I lost my dad almost 2 years ago, so this post is based on my own experiences with his passing and what has been said to and around me.
It starts out innocently enough: “He would have loved to be here.” or “He would have been really proud of you in your new home”. Those statements offer us a bit of comfort and remind us of the love we had with those who are no longer here. When loved ones pass away, we want to imagine that they’re still here with us and experiencing what we are going through – especially the joyous occasions.
But that’s where the pleasantries end.
I can’t count the times I’ve heard statements like these over the last 2 years: “He wouldn’t have wanted that for you.” or “He would have been angry about that.”
These statements are speaking for the deceased and I have to admit, it fires me up when I hear them. The moment someone passes away, they stop having opinions. Sure you could guess as to how they would react to something, but truly no one knows. Humans are complex beings, even if you know how someone reacted to one situation, you can’t accurately predict how they would react to a similar situation.
Furthermore, it’s offensive to use their passing to reinforce your own opinion on something. If I had to guess, that’s the motive 90% of the time when someone speaks for the deceased.
I even see this in TV shows all the time. Every time it happens I immediately look over at Anthony and he already knows exactly what I’m thinking. We’ve had this conversation a million times, hence why I’m finally writing a blog post about it.
And to tie this into current events: I’m sure you’ve heard of President Trump’s call to a Gold Star widow. Recently I’ve seen posts on social media stating something like this “I bet her husband would not want her using his death to disparage our President.”
First, you do not know her husband (regardless of what you may know about his profession). Second, only stating events that happened isn’t necessarily an attack on our president. It’s possible that this widow was truly offended by his words and has chosen to speak out – that’s her prerogative as a widow.
So, what I ask is very simple: If you know someone who has passed away – don’t speak for them.