Have you ever noticed how the tempo and nature of personal judgment and feelings towards someone who is hated alters when that person dies? This applies both to public figures such as a politician as well as family members.
It becomes much more difficult to hate someone once they are dead. For sure there are feelings of pity, sadness, regret, shame, remorse or frustration, but rarely is the emotion anger or hatred.
Suddenly the questions change - from "Why can't he sort himself out and be a nicer person" to "Why was he so?" The questions shift of course from the hopes that the person might change to trying to appreciate why they were the way they were.
It is understandable that the passing of a human being would alter people's perspective, so perhaps it is worth reflecting on why people change the way they feel so suddenly, so dramatically, and possible implications of the ultimate requiem, the living requiem for people who we hate - while they are still alive?
It isnt just that people say nice things about the deceased. Of course they do at funerals, out of a social custom of politeness, but there is also an emotional change, an immediate softening of how people feel about the deceased. A loosening of a tension. The setting free of anger and hatred.
Why can't we assume such empathy while these resented people were still alive?
Perhaps it is because forgiveness is easier once fear has been swept away. Whatever we imagined this individual could do to us or say about us is not longer an issue. It is easy to forgive when there is no fear. We may not want to consider the fact that we are afraid, but the possibility is always there despite our denial.
Perhaps it is because we are humbled by the reminder of our own mortality? We are given a sharp reminder of the futility of our fear, frustration and anger at others.
Perhaps it is that death is a constant and ever present reminder that all the things we cherish, all the fortunes we gather and count either get left behind or turn to dust. A requiem for a hated person is the vain hope that we might be forgiven by those of our enemies who survive us?
Whatever the why, think about someone who you don't like right now. Bring their worst attributes and characteristics to the front of your mind. Consider how they make you feel. Pay attention to the tension in your stomach, back of your neck and shoulders. Pay attention to your breathing.
This is not only how this person makes you feel emotionally, but transforms you physically. Of course you are making yourself feel this because only you are in control of your feelings.
Now imagine they have just died. You are to write and present a eulogy for them at their funeral tomorrow morning. You are to compose or at least select the music that would be fitting for their funeral. If you have the courage, write that eulogy. Just one or two brief paragraphs will do.
Now reflect on all the emotional energy you have bottled up, that has no effect on that individual whether alive or dead. What if this negative energy were to be released and replaced through a living requiem? Just as a funeral is much more for the living than the dead, a living requiem may be about a hated person, but it is to free you of them.