We assume a special attitude towards the dead, something almost like admiration for one who has accomplished a very difficult feat. We suspend criticism of him, overlooking whatever wrongs he may have done, and issue the command, De mortuis nil nisi bene: we act as if we were justified in singing his praises at the funeral oration, and inscribe only what is to his advantage on the tombstone. This consideration for the dead, which he really no longer needs, is more important to us than the truth, and, to most of us, certainly, it is more important than consideration for the living.
"The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones..."
There was once a small town with few inhabitants, which a great king came to attack; he surrounded it and constructed huge siege-works against it. There was in it a poor wise man, and he saved the town by his wisdom. But no one remembered that poor man. (Ecclesiastes 9:14-15, REB)
Remember your Creator before the silver cord is snapped and the golden bowl is broken, before the pitcher is shattered at the spring and the wheel broken at the well, before the dust returns to the earth as it began and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12: 6-7, REB)