When people close to us die, we talk about them in their best light, put them on a pedestal, and almost glorify them. This is often a part of the process that happens during the period of time right after death and during the preparations for the ceremony, funeral, or life celebration—as they are now called.
Although this tribute seems, at times, exaggerated and overly favorable—it really is not. Isn’t what we are remembering just the soul of that person—what made them who they really were. The true essence of who they were to us, beyond the idiosyncrasies, personality flaws, and behaviors based on issues that may have been rooted deep in their psyche.
What a challenge it would be to try to look at people in this way in everyday life, not just in death. If we could stop judging, blaming, and being offended by things that we perceive others are doing. If we could look at the soul of a person and practice understanding, trying to see what it might be that they are suffering through that causes them to act this way, while they are still here on this earth. If we could not take it personally, thinking it has anything to do with us, when someone behaves a certain way that hurts our feelings or makes us angry or frustrated or betrayed.
How would our relationships be different?
When a loved one dies, everything in your everyday life stops. You are given an excuse to stop your daily activities and work to reflect and supposedly grieve. Before the death of my father, I thought the time of the funeral was for the family and friends to grieve their loss. But I now know that the grieving doesn’t start until much later. These couple of whirlwind days are jam-packed with planning, services, and talking to people—some of whom you haven’t seen in years. But it is a time when your life with all of its hectic schedules and responsibilities comes to a screeching halt. That might be why it is possible to think about and see the person who died for who they really were, regardless of behaviors or quirks that you might not have understood.
What if we took that time to stop and think about that person with whom you are currently having a conflict—a co-worker, friend, family member, spouse, significant other, or maybe even someone you only knew briefly who might have hurt you in some way, and look into the soul of that person? What if we thoughtfully reflected with understanding, even compassion for their behaviors that might have angered or hurt us, and ultimately forgive them while they are still here with us.
How would our lives be different?