Excellent article. It’s a common — and rather odd — fact that everyone does feel the need to elevate and whitewash the deceased. Every newspaper article about someone who’s been murdered always has relatives or neighbors saying things like, “s/he was such a great person, always friendly, I can’t understand why this happened to them…”

Back when the USA was trying to maintain the French colonial yolk on VietNam the military discovered a phenomenon that became known as “our last lieutenant.” The US military had built OPs across the country and each OP was typically occupied by a handful of enlisted men and a lieutenant. The lieutenant was usually a recent graduate; he’d arrive to find war-weary cynical troops who really did not at all want to leave the relative safety of their OP for the sake of a pointless and potentially lethal patrol. They’d tell the new officer how great their previous lieutenant had been and more than imply the new guy just didn’t stack up. Eventually the lieutenant would reach breaking point and to prove himself he’d go out on a patrol — and get killed.

A new lieutenant would then arrive, and he’d be told how great the previous one was. And so the endless cycle continued.

For some reason we fear death so much that we shroud the departed in a fantasy. Like all fantasies, we hate it when someone tries to pull aside the myth and reveal the complex truth. It’s just human nature.

Hang in there. And good luck.

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