Lv 7
Alex asked in Social SciencePsychology · 9 years ago

When someone dies, why do we only remember the good?

I lost someone very close to me a while back. Almost immediately, I shut out all the bad things and thought of him as prince charming. It took a long time to start to remember the bad things and I had a lot of trouble reconciling the 2 people I had in my head - almost like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I just found out a coworker passed away. This person had wronged me in the past and I didn’t particularly like him. Already everyone is saying he was great. I’m not going to be the jerk who disagrees during their mourning – they had a different relationship with him. It just brought up my past experience and made me curious about why our minds do this.

It’s a complicated question to ask on this forum, but my google searches haven’t been successful in finding an answer. Anyone know any good resources?

3 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    After they die...what point is there in remembering the bad?

  • Bill
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    HI Alex,

    Well, first off, I don't think we remember only the good. Probably you mean initially, just after the person dies. If so, then I think it is tradition. You know, a "Don't speak ill of the dead" type thing. The person is gone, so what is to be gain by being negative? We want to be benevolent, give them the benefit of the doubt, so to speak. Death is a difficult thing to deal with, so why be hard on the person? But I think too that if the person has done us wrong or was in essence a jerk, those thoughts will come back. Then the best think you can do is to forgive them as best you can. Not doing so hurts you.

    But I don't think there's any sort of psychological reason beyond what I wrote above.

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    An old thread, but I find myself asking the same question.

    I have to differ opinions with Bill; I do believe there is a psychological reason (can't back it up though with resources though)

    I think the mind focusses on the good, as those are the things that we will miss most about that person. As death is so permanent, you will know you will never experience those great jokes/that enthusiasm/that fantastic smile (fill in..) again. The fact that you won't experience someone's lies for instance, you can't care less about. And thus, you find yourself focussing on the good, thinking about all those positive traits turning him or her into prince(ss) charming.

    Plus, the fact that everybody seems to confirm all those positive personality traits does (n't) help.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.