The funeral was in progress and the rabbi was talking at length about the good traits of the deceased. "What an honest man, what a loving husband, and a kind father. So generous, so loving, so kind…"

The widow leans over and whispers to one of her children, "Go up there and take a look in the coffin. See if that's your dad."

It seems there's always so much good to say about those who have departed – their accomplishments and good deeds, wisdom and grace, generosity and unconditional love.

During the person's lifetime, we get lost in the detailsBut wasn't the deceased, like all others, a human being, a creature presented with challenges who likely made mistakes? Did you really think that he was so perfect yesterday? What of his failures and bad habits, his ego and lusts? What of the times he lost his temper?

Of this, you don't hear a word.

So you ask: Has this human being become an angel upon leaving this physical world?

There is a famous jest regarding the sequence of weekly Torah portions we are currently reading: Acharei Mot ("after the death"), Kedoshim ("holy ones"), and Emor ("say"). When read as a single sentence, it would roughly translate as: "After the death, say that he was holy."

Are we shutting our lips because we are frightened to start up with the spirits of the deceased, lest they visit in the middle of the night and whip us with sticks of fire?

I don't think so. It isn't the departed individual who changes; we change.

During the person's lifetime, we get lost in the details. But when death strikes, we have the chance to study the kaleidoscope, the bigger picture, with utmost clarity. And at that point, we discover – a bit too late – the beautiful life led by the deceased.

So, here is the question: Do people need to die in order for us to appreciate them? Do we, G‑d forbid, need to lose someone before we can truly find him? Must "beloved husband, father and brother" be a postmortem adage, or can we announce it throughout his lifetime as well?

Let us make up while our family member is living, and not with their tombstone.

Let us forgive people, not spirits. Let's see the good in each other now.