Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash

Not All Dead Deserve To Be Honored

Death does not rewrite history, and it certainly doesn’t change who a person was.

A famous person has died. Cue the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Follow that up with exhortations to praise the life and career of the now dead famous person.

And of course, don’t you dare speak ill of the dead.

We have this cultural idea that death bestows honor and erases the horrors committed during one’s life. That we should never, ever speak bad about them, even if it’s just highlighting the harmful things they did in their lifetime and trying to figure out how to repair the damage they did.

It’s bullshit that needs to be swept away along with all the other cultural bullshit we’ve inherited from short-sighted men in power.

History ignored is history repeated.

Let them get away with it in life by honoring them after death and you will only inspire others to repeat their horrors.

In ancient cultures, you had to EARN you honor, even and especially the honor received after death.

And as our values, both culturally and personally, change, we must revise how that honor is earned, and what might earn someone dishonor, up to and including erasing their life after their death.

The dead we honor grow in power, whether it’s through the cultural influence of their legends or the power of their spirit to influence the living.

Do you really want to honor those who caused and continued oppression for their own personal gain? What kind of world will honoring them create? What kind of world has honoring them already created?

As a spiritual person who does deep work reckoning and reconciling with ancestral lines both in my personal practice and with clients, there are some things that are unforgivable, enough to warrant spiritually cutting a person out of ancestral reverence.

That slave-owning ancestor? Out they go. They do not get honor just because they contributed a few genes to my line.

But more than that, more than just dishonoring and cutting off ancestors — both our direct ancestors as well as our ideological and cultural ancestors — we must personally reckon with the ways in which that dishonored ancestors actions and ideologies have influenced and continue to influence us.

That slave-owning ancestor passed down privilege that still exists — privilege gained through the oppression and subjugation of other humans.

How you reckon with this is up to you, but the reckoning must come.

Back to those dead famous people that we love to celebrate so much the moment they die — or even start to head closer and closer to death through illness or old age.

Actively participate in colonialist actions and spend your career actively working to subjugate and oppress people through economic and criminal “justice” polices that adversely affect millions but make you richer?

All is forgiven and forgotten once you’re dead! It’s all good!

Your inclusion of a vapid populist as your running mate to snag the women’s vote actively contributed to the dumpsterfire presidency we have today by normalizing the idea that incompetence is acceptable in politics?

It’s okay! You were a war hero, so that absolves you of everything now that you’re dead.

Fuck no.

Fuck no.


The suffering one endured nor the manner in which one died can ever erase the harm one did in one’s lifetime, and to pretend otherwise is delusional and harmful.

Not all dead deserve to be honored. Not culturally. Not politically. Not spiritually. Not at all.