The Spy is a Netflix series about Israeli spy and hero Eli Cohen. In a recent interview, Eli's widow Nadia expresses great dissatisfaction with the series: a lot of changes were made, ostensibly to "add drama", that in her opinion diminish him. She also expressed dissatisfaction with the casting of Sasha Baron-Cohen as Eli because of his record as "a clown" (her words), and she was deeply hurt by the whole thing. (Source in Hebrew)
The thing is, Shasha Baron Cohen stated that he wanted to play Eli Cohen because Eli was an awesome hero. And the director was drawn to the material because Eli was an awesome hero. I'm sure the last thing they wanted was to give his widow pain. What they wanted was to glorify his name.
That made me wonder: writing a fictionalised story based on real events or real people, where the relevant people or their relatives might still be alive, how does one avoid causing pain? Note, this question is not about legal aspects, but about ethical and human aspects.
In particular, there's a fantasy story in the back of my mind, rather inspired by Eli Cohen's life. The reason I'm drawn to this material is the same as for the others - Eli was as awesome as they get. So the last thing I'd want is to give his widow any pain. But at the same time, the story I want to tell is my story, fiction, not "an official biography".