Affirming Life Through Death

Tomorrow, November 1, is All Saints Day, also known as The Day of the Dead in Mexico. Tradition exists to remember the lives of those whom we have loved and lost. I’m keen on ritual and symbolism. I participated at an observance while in graduate school and found it very meaningful.

Well, Heather Corinna has asked a pertinent question in her entry for today:

While I was in heaven at the shop, peeking into little retablo doors, it occurred to me that perhaps we need a Day of the Dead for relationships as well as physical deaths. I’ve been hit with a lot of death in my life, especially my early life, and especially very violent death, so being able to have at least one day a year to set out photographs and icons, remember gladly those lost to me, to do some creative work with my feelings, to have a feast with my dead and have conversations with them I’m missing, or never got to have at all, is such a great ritual and comfort. Being able to remember — especially in a culture which is so afraid of death, which cloaks it in so much heaviness and sorrow — the lives of those past with joy, even if it’s bittersweet, and look at death with less fear and more reverence and feeling, is just so valuable.

I think we could use the same kind of ritual for emotional deaths and endings, with the same sense of honor and love. I know I could. Certainly, people do ritualistic things with the ends of relationships, but I think most of them are usually negative: burning things, chopping up or throwing away photographs, getting sauced with friends and dissing ex-partners, engaging in behaviour to attack those exes in some way, et cetera.

But what if, instead, we made a feast for our ex-lovers?

What if, indeed? You can read Heather’s ideas of what such a feast might entail by going here. (Or click below to continue reading.)

But what if, instead, we made a feast for our ex-lovers? What if we set out photographs of them or gifts from them in a special place, with flowers and symbols of those relationships in all their phases? Made them sweetbread? What if we threw our ex-lovers a giant party and thanked them — not in person, merely in spirit — for the things they gave us? Told them we missed them, missed what we felt, are sad to have lost it? Let ourselves have a day to read the love letters we generally tuck away because we know they’ll make us hurt and cry at the worst times possible, but let ourselves have that catharsis and longing for that day? Or maybe we aren’t sad, because we know how things evolve and change and grow. Maybe our endings were needed, so we take a day to acknowledge the growth and change those gave us. What if for those lovers who really fucked us over or betrayed or hurt us we spent a day doing what we could to forgive them and let some of our bitterness or anger go? Maybe what things they’ve left for us could be put in a box with care, and tied up beautifully with ribbons for the next year. Maybe those things we’ve determined we can’t hold unto or needn’t can be brought to a nice place of rest, rather than tossed in a dumpster.

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One Comment on “Affirming Life Through Death”

  1. kat Says:

    oo, thanks for pointing that one out. i had something similar going through my head and this really pinned it down for me.