Did you ever experience the death of somebody you respect but can't stand?

This is a much shorter one than it should be- I owe the guy that much at least- but I met a guy many years ago when he was something of a teen prodigy at a book discussion group I went to. This guy definitely demanded your attention: for one thing he dyed his hair blue and for another he was exceptionally brilliant- every bit as much as he thought he was. Had major elements of Ignatius J. Reilly rolled into it though, and in addition to being brilliant and funny (even charming when he wanted to be) he was also a thoroughly obnoxious intellectual bully and, simply put, an asshole- especially when he drank. I went years without speaking to him, later became his friend on Facebook, hoping he’d matured in the time I hadn’t known him, but nope- he became one of the first people I ever “defriended” from Facebook just as I did in real life. Life’s too short to have negative belligerent people in it, and to people who would point out “he’s a good person down deep” I’d point out that there are plenty of people who are “good people” ON the surface AS WELL AS down deep. Sorry, I don’t like assholes, even when they’re brilliant and can be funny; I don’t do mean.

Well anyway, not much of a spoiler when you read the title to say he’s dead. He died very unexpectedly today at the age of 30 (a massive stroke I think- details aren’t clear other than totally unexpected). That’s way too young and especially so for somebody who was- warts and all- so intelligent and with a great education (Ivy League law school grad- not that he ever practiced). He was an only child so I really feel for his mother. Mutual friends are devastated by this; I have been a bit standoffish beyond a very sincere “Oh my God WTF?” shocked reaction because I fear to say more. (Our falling out- we had two or three actually- was known to all, and they even agreed confidentially that “he’s an acquired taste” [to which I responded “so I’m sure is bat piss, but not one I care to acquire”] and that “that’s just his way” to which I responded with my grandfather’s retort for that exact same line- “Well goddam his way”.)

So, I started to do an R.I.P. [his name here] as my Facebook status but decided that was hypocritical seeing as how if he were still alive he wouldn’t be able to read it since I defriended him. Not sure what to do really. I won’t go to the funeral or the funeral home since that would be super-duper hypocritical, though if I can think of a way to do it anonymously I might send his mother the money I’d send on flowers. It’s a very poor family- which, incidentally, is one reason I didn’t like him in fact: he could have done so much to help his family’s finances but wouldn’t work at a lucrative job in his field because it didn’t leave him enough “leisure time” so his poor mom was forever behind on house payments and the like. (Again, very Ignatius.)
So, it’s very unusual when somebody you flat out don’t like- and I flat out didn’t like this guy- dies. You don’t quite know what to say other than the obvious “oh fuck” when it’s unexpected like this, but you have to guard against saying more. I refuse to be a hypocrite, yet strangely- I guess because I respected this guy a lot even if I didn’t like him- it’s almost a loss.

It’s not the first person I didn’t like who died- one of my mentors in academia, a woman I learned a LOT from about being a librarian, about making web pages, about academic politics, etc., and one of the best librarians I’ve ever known when it came to being able to find anything anywhere, was also a complete two faced crazy bitch who was frigging IMPOSSIBLE to trust or get along with. I’m far from the only person who felt this way. When she died- not totally unexpected, she was diagnosed with cancer and lived a few weeks afterwards- I was actually asked by a former co-worker (I’d moved on since then- in part [certainly not exclusively] due to this woman] to speak at the memorial service. I told her person who asked me that I would feel very hypocritical about that since while I could say some good things legitimately- I learned a lot from her and all- it was all professional accolades, as a person I thought she was dreadful. The person who had asked me said “Yes, I know… everybody knows… but I think you’ll be the most sincere on the good stuff and the most diplomatic on the fact she was a bitch”. (I didn’t speak- seemed to two faced for somebody I’d trashed and usually deservedly several times.)

So anyway, I’m not giving this what it deserves but I’ll post this anyway:

Has anybody else ever experienced the death of somebody you respect, maybe even like on some level, but also can’t stand? Somebody who basically- well, they had their moments and they had their good points but just simply were not a good person? It’s a very odd experience isn’t it? You want to say something moving or profound, you certainly don’t feel any joy in their death, you have compassion for those who loved them, but at the same point you don’t want to be a hypocrite by not bringing up the fact that not only did you not like them but the reason you didn’t like them is because they weren’t nice people.

Or at least that’s my take: I’d be very interested in reading those of others who’ve had the experience.

My mother in law. I could not stand her! She made passive aggressive into and art form. She was completely irrational when it came to facing reality. She would not be reasoned with. She yelled at me because I wouldn’t lie to a priest in order to have my baby baptized.

However, when she died, I was able to say that she always was generous with my children. She remembered every birthday, and every special event. She was always thrilled to get anything the kids sent her.

Sometimes you don’t have to express how you felt as much as how much you remember:

He was one of the most intelligent people you know
You were impressed with his musical ablitiy.
You found his blue hair striking.
Your thoughts are with his mother at this time and how she must be greiving.

Nope, but I sure am looking forward to it.

And I’m taking a party blower to the funeral. Just to use at the end of my speech.

I think the best way to handle it is to focus on his family/close friends. Express your condolences to his loved ones, tell them you’re thinking of them in their time of loss, that sort of thing.

You might want to go to the funeral for the people like his mom that loved him if you think it would help THEM in their time of grief. If you don’t think you’ll be noticed in the crowd or won’t be missed if you don’t go, then don’t go. Funerals are for the ones left behind. I went to a funeral not so long ago for a loved one. A couple of my newer but pretty close friends came (they have never even meet the person that died). I don’t know if I would go so far as to say it helped me with my grieving process, but it did mean something to me that they came.

I don’t “respect” people that are very talented/smart/successful/famous/pretty if they are absolute assholes (and I’ve never understood why anybody else does either). If anything I hate them more than run of the mill assholes because it should be easier for them to nice to others. Us average Joes have to spend most of our time and mental energy just to keep our head above water.

I guess I might be sorry for them on some level because maybe they just can’t help but be assholes. Also, there is the person that for whatever rubs you the very wrong way but most folks seem to think is an okay person. Thats different from the universal asshole. And I’ve always wondered what the hell are these assholes thinking? You’d think they would pick up on vibe that nobody friggin likes em. I guess they just have a toxic mix of ego, lack of social awareness, and plain ole fuck everybody else in em.

I’ve known a couple of universal assholes. My reaction to them dying was along the lines of “well, I won’t have to put up with their shit anymore and neither will anybody else”.


I can’t say that I have.

I can say the opposite, that I’ve experienced the death of someone I love, but that I have NO respect for.

My father. What a jerk. I’ll leave it at that.

Not yet, but it’s going to happen sooner or later. One of my coworkers is in her late 80s, and to put it bluntly is a bitch on wheels. When I’ve had the misfortune of supervising her, I’ve gotten nothing but grief because she hates to work under people who are less than half her age. Her daughter works with us too, so when she dies, I’m going to have to say something. I’m thinking along the lines of how she was sharp (I mean mentally, not just her tongue) and spirited right until the end…both of which are true, even if I can’t stand her.

My grandmother (my mother’s mother). I had one extremely good grandma and then the abusive bitch from hell or so I heard from stories. I never had that much to do with her even though she moved close to us when I was in high school. I had a part-time job at the only local supermarket and I requested through my mother that she never come in during the afternoons or weekends while I was working because I didn’t want to be associated with her. She obliged because I almost never saw her even in a tiny town.

She died unexpectedly during hip surgery in 2000. My mother called me right before I went to work crying and told me. I muttered ‘Sorry about your loss’ and listened for a while about funeral arrangements and decided I wasn’t flying back to go to it.

I learned later that I hurt my mother badly by doing that. I couldn’t give any excuse. It was all premeditated and deliberate as one last spit on her grave. My grandmother wasn’t even that bad on the people scale. She was just a self-centered recovering alcoholic that shot her mouth off at inappropriate times but it was my mother’s parent and I shouldn’t have done that just as a matter of grace.