Remembering our Dead

Elizabeth’s essay Día De Muertos: Eat, Speak, And Remember posted this weekend. It is a wonderful reflection on the importance of remembering those who have died. As some Christians create these atrocious “hell houses” and most Americans get a bit silly with their costumes, this season can also be a gracious reminder that we are never fully separated from our loved ones who have gone before us. The act of remembering is a sacred rite and can transform grief into grace. Elizabeth writes,

After Mack died, I began to take notice of the Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos, and their bold and bright depictions of death making their way from Mexico onto our store shelves in central Pennsylvania. Days of the Dead refer to the Catholic and some protestant church celebrations around Halloween (Oct 31), All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2) or the Day of the Dead.

At first I thought the images were a bit jarring of children dancing with caricatures of death, faces painted as skeletons, happily eating skull sugar molds and chicken stew with bones gathered in candlelit cemeteries. But, I have come to appreciate this starkness is a welcomed reminder of our own mortality: life is brief, death will come to us all, so live!

As I continue to learn to live with the death of Mack, I have become ever more convinced that we need to give permission to ourselves and our loved ones to speak the names of our dead and to celebrate their contribution to life long after they die.

Elizabeth, Izzy, and I both laugh when we remember Mack and his quirky sense of humor, gentleness, and friendship. The costume he chose for his last Halloween with us illustrates this quite well, I think, as does his buddy John’s choice. Smile with me, laugh with me, and love with me today.

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