We’re told it’s impolite to speak ill of the dead, but that makes mourning most people extremely difficult. Nobody’s perfect, and this habit we have of trying to sanctify people simply because they’ve done the one thing that we will all do eventually, which is shuffle off this mortal coil, means that there are whole portions of their lives that we are made to feel uncomfortable about discussing.
This is extremely unfair to those of us who get left behind. For example, I’m still intensely mourning the loss of the love of my life, but the fact is, our relationship was tempestuous and rocky at the best of times. The good times were fantastic and unforgettable, but the bad times were crap. I need to be able to process that, too.
Many of my loved ones cannot understand why I’m grieving at all, and because of that, it’s a topic I can’t bring up in their presence. They don’t want to hear about the good or the bad, so I’m left to chew on all of it alone. I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about the happy memories, and I shouldn’t have to avoid mentioning the unhappy ones in order to keep from proving their unspoken, elephant-sized point. That makes it awfully hard to move on.
And sometimes I feel as though I’m the only one on earth who is willing to admit that I’ve been happy to see certain people go. That has been the case with two people who loomed large in my life when I was a child. One abused me physically, the other abused me emotionally. When those two died, my “grieving” took on the form of not doing a happy dance in the presence of anyone who might be shocked. I should be allowed to talk about that, too, but I rarely have the opportunity, because I try to respect other people’s feelings.
I do agree you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead around those who live on and might be offended. But I strongly disagree that you shouldn’t do so because the people in question aren’t around to defend themselves. That’s a steaming load of cow manure. Their best defense would have been to not lead toxic lives in the first place. They made their choices. So if you have to badmouth them in order to heal your wounds, I say go for it.