Guest Author - Rev. Jaclin Meade Scott
There are some really awful people in the world.
Sometimes we are related to them. Dealing with this in life is hard enough. Here is something you definitely need to do, while the Stinker is alive. This may upset you, and you probably won't like it. But it's crucial.
Pray for the Stinker.
Yes, really. It can be a very simple "God bless ____', but you need to do it. For you. This isn't the forum for the deep theological reasoning. Just know that God commands this, and for good reason. Remember you have to answer for YOUR actions. The Stinker has to answer for his/her own. That's between God and the Stinker. Leave it there.
When that person dies, a new, unexpected can of worms is suddenly open. Emotions want to take over, but logic must prevail.
Whatever has happened, however you have been hurt or victimized by this person, YOU are the only one to facilitate your recovery. You have to decide that this person will not control the rest of your life. Even if you have been threatened to keep events secret, find someone to tell. Someone you trust, who will act on your behalf and protect you. It doesn't matter how influential that bad one is, or if the bad one is nearby or far away. It doesn't matter if it happened years ago, or is still going on. You owe it to yourself to get help. The best way to overcome a bad person is to bring them into the light of day, and let someone see what has happened. Not easy. Very scary. Embarrassing. But be strong. Make noise. Survive. You are a precious human being, and SOMEONE cares that you've been hurt. And no one wants it to happen to anyone else.
Bear in mind that any attempts on your part to seek revenge by ruining the reputation of the perpetrator (perp) will only come back to bite YOU. You don't need the aggravation. The idea is to separate yourself from the perp, not prolong the association. Revenge is not up to us. It is not sweet. It is wrong.
The death of the perp may be unsettling. You may feel tremendous relief that the perp has died. This is natural. But you may also be ashamed of those feelings because we often hear that it's wrong to "speak ill of the dead". Amazingly, there is always someone who thought the perp was just a wonderful person. This can be confusing!
It is understandable that you don't want to cause a scene at a wake or funeral. It is strongly recommended that you do NOT do so. You may even want to avoid being there at all. The recommendation here is that you go. Everyone needs 'closure', meaning a definite end. It's crucial in the healing process. The closure you need may be different from anyone else's that is there. That's okay.
If someone approaches you and says something about the wonderful qualities of the perp, just keep quiet. Even when they comment on how close and loving your relationship with the perp seemed to be. You'll want to scream, and that's understandable. But don't.
Here are some things you can do.
Write a letter to the perp. Put everything in it you want to say. Vent. Rant. Rage. Use bad language. Get it out of your system. Seal the letter in an envelope, and discreetly place it in the coffin so no one will see it. This will help free you of some of the feelings that harm YOU the longer you carry them. When the coffin is closed and lowered, some of this internal garbage will be buried with it. Forever.
The same letter can be placed in a body of water, with the same results for you emotionlly.
Place something symbolic on the casket at the gravesite. Did the perp ruin your youth? Place a tiny teddy bear. The perp may have your youth and innocence, but you have the rest of your life. And by golly, you're going to make the best of it.
Place something red, the color of anger. Heap all your negative energy into that red thing, and let the perp take it to eternity. You're better off rid of it.
Do you have something that belonged to the perp? Give it back.
What if the perp was a close relative? Maybe you are the one responsible for a memorial and burial? Again, revenge is never healthy. Never. Be respectful, without being extravagant. Have compassion for the living. Consider the feelings of children, parents, co-workers and community. Your graciousness will be long remembered. This is better than being known as a Stinker yourself!
Consider the death of the perp as the birth of your new life, perp free. It has been said "The best revenge is to live well." Let it be so for you.