👑 Let Sleeping Kings Lie ~ written by Janet Bostic 

 

IDIOM

noun

a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g., rain cats and dogs, see the light ).

Often, quite often, I see the term “rest in peace” used in relation to Elvis. More specifically, this idiom (see definition) is in direct response to a less than favorable comment or statement, true or not, pertaining to this man we adore.

Statement: “Elvis had issues with prescription drug use.”

Response: “Cant we just let him rest in peace and not discuss this?”

R.I.P. or Rest in Peace, is historically carved on headstones beginning around the 8th century and is a short epitaph or expression wishing eternal peace and rest to someone who has died. It is associated with Christianity and specifically Roman Catholics and comes from a Latin phrase recapturing the words “come and rest in peace.”

A similar phrase is also found in the book of Isaiah, 57:2:

“ …will come in peace, and they will rest in their beds, he who goes straightforward.”

This verse has been found inscribed in Hebrew on gravestones dating from the 8th century speaking of the righteous person who died because he could not stand the evil surrounding him. It is also used to this day in traditional Jewish ceremonies.

History lesson over. 

Why are we so afraid to touch on truths concerning the deceased? Do we really feel it disturbs and disrupts the eternal slumber of the departed loved one? Isn’t there a way to respectfully discuss all sides to a story without sensationalizing it disproportionately? If Christian belief is assigned, as was supposed to Elvis, wouldn’t he be in Heaven enjoying eternal bliss with his maker already and nothing we could say or do would change that?

At Halloween there are decorations galore making light of the phrase, fake tombstones littering tacky orange lit glowing yards. I understand it is only in jest, pretend, used as gothic scenery to illuminate the frightening tales associated with death and dying and zombies and ghosts and goblins. But why is it ok then to glamorize death for fun and the rest of the year walk on eggshells?

Used as a fitting wish, it’s fine, but when used to quiet troubled topics, rest in peace is a cop out, a dismissal, an idiom used to ease and soothe our own personal discomfort with uncomfortable discussions. Many feel that to speak ill of the dead is disrespectful and to a point I agree. To viciously speak ill of anyone who has no means of defense seems wrong.  But I don’t feel what we say disturbs the departed. Nor do I feel it’s necessarily wrong to respectfully and truthfully discuss flawed transgressions. It’s like using the term “passed away”, which I prefer to use as opposed to “died.” It somehow seems less harsh, more gentle, less final for some reason but the truth is it is for my own comfort only.

Where the very public Presley is concerned, we are dead wrong (forgive the pun) to whitewash the parts of the story that are not the most positive or up lifting. It’s truth, plain and simple. It is part of his story. It helps to define the total man without the disservice of sanitizing absolutes. That’s not to say we should  capitalize on it or solely emphasize it because there is far more good and positive and enhancing points concerning his life and legacy than there will ever be negative. And for most of us, myself included, touching on less commendatory aspects changes nothing about the love, admiration and joy I and millions more will forever associate with this beautiful man’s life, music and legacy.

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