Should you speak ill of the dead.

So I seen my old next door neighbour today who didn’t know that my husband had died. I told him he took his own life, I always feel torn then because people will ask why. So I told him about his addiction to cocaine and prescription drugs and how awful it had been living with the addiction for 9 years etc and how it changed my husband completely into someone I didn’t know. He was so shocked as to look at my husband you’d never know. He had good jobs, was well dressed, healthy in appearance etc. So everyone is always shocked.

I’m torn as I feel like I’m speaking badly about him by telling people. If I don’t say anything I struggle with what I can say, if this makes sense? I tend to avoid people if I’m not sure if they know he’s died or not. If someone asks how we all are I find I have to let them know he died.

What do you all think?


I think you’re being honest and also we all deal with these difficult situations differently. I don’t think you are speaking ill of him but no doubt there are people you know who don’t need to know the full details and others who you feel more comfortable with sharing the more personal details.


Thanks. It’s finding the balance. It’s hard when people are shocked to hear he took his own life so always ask why. Even when my nephew died by suicide everyone was waiting on the reason, there actually wasn’t one that anyone knew about. He was obviously just depressed, or took it to his grave.


Hi @Kat1984,
I see your dilemma, my first thought is your just being honest, it’s always best to be honest.
My ex is a cocaine addict, though you wouldn’t think it to look at him, he was always so charming & sociable with everyone he met in public, it was alone with him behind closed doors if he didn’t have his fix he could get nasty.
Also, my dad is a problem drinker, when he can’t handle stuff, he binge drinks, & like my ex, he refuses to accept it’s a problem, & always has been, tries to act all sociable with other people, but at home he can get nasty, the last 2 years since my mom passed especially have been horrendous. But it’s something I grew up with, so I’m used to it. Sadly, & frustratingly, there is quite a stigma in society around addiction, sadly people judge a situation they’ve never been through themselves, & this traps the addicts family & friends in the “taboo cycle” of addiction, because no-one dares talk about it & risk being judged, but it’s only by being honest, opening up & talking about these things that we can break that cycle. On the other side of this, people that have had what I call a “normal” family life, without the trauma of addiction, don’t know how to respond to a situation they are unfamiliar with. But don’t let this scare you, you are only being honest, it’s not speaking ill of the dead if you’re telling the truth.
Telling people you meet so much information sounds like you feel a need to talk about it, for family of addicts & alcoholics there is a support group called AL-ANON, alternatively if you think it might help, counciling might help with this.
One thing you can usually count on is people’s morbid curiosity, & their need to fill the quiet in a conversation when they don’t know what else to say, this is probably why when saying someone passed away, they ask why. My only answer to this is to pre-script what you would like to say, or how much you feel comfortable to say, if answering a question they ask makes you feel uncomfortable, you can just honestly say, “I don’t want to talk about it,” or “I don’t feel comfortable talking about this,” & move the conversation on, (I find it helps to either, make a simple comment about the weather, or look for something you can use as a distraction, ie- “aren’t they nice flowers in that garden, do you know what type of flowers they are?” Or “that’s a nice broach your wearing, is it new?” Or if appropriate, use something you’ve seen on TV, maybe the news to change the subject, ie- “did you see Eurovision this year?” Etc. The important thing is don’t make yourself uncomfortable for other people’s curiousity, but talk about it if you’re comfortable to do so. Hope this helps.

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Great points. I just overthink. The reality is my husband was an addict and due to that fact is the reason he ended his life. He wasn’t like it before he touched drugs.he always had good mental health. I think he eventually did too much damage to his brain.

His family annoy me, they’d rather think he died from depression. They will not accept it was the addiction that killed him. Obviously he was depressed, being an addict ruins your life. It just annoys me when they had nothing to do with him through his life, but seem to think if someone (noticed) he was depressed he could have been saved! :rage: it just bugs the hell out of me. I was the only one who was there for him for 9 years trying to work alongside it. I accepted that in the end there was nothing more me or anyone else could do. It was down to him and he couldn’t stop!

I just feel more comfortable telling people I know rather than practical strangers. I just know he was embarrassed by his addiction and full of shame so by me telling people after he’s died I feel like I’m stabbing him in the back.

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Hi @Kat1984,
Your not stabbing him in the back, your telling the truth, & the fact your able to talk about it shows you accept it for what it is. It’s ok to hate the addiction but love the person, this is natural.
You are not alone, many a good person has been destroyed by addiction, & when you’ve had to watch someone you love go down that road, & are powerless to fix it, (an addict can only be helped if they are willing to accept it), it’s heartbreaking. His family have no right to edit the facts to suit them selves, I understand this frustration.

A lot of addicts feel bad, or shameful of what they are doing, they see the harm it causes, even if they refuse to admit it, that’s usually why they try to go to such lengths to try to hide it, as if we can’t tell.
Be kind to yourself, sending hugs of support.

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Thank you xx

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