This is the day when Catholics remember the dead. I suspect this has its roots in the Celtic Tradition of Halloween when the veil between two worlds was deemed to be at its thinnest. Having a day to celebrate or think about those we have lost is a common theme across many cultures. The Mexicans, famously, have their Day Of The Dead.
Bereavement is one of the most difficult experiences that we experience as human beings. We are suddenly, permanently cut off from those we love. Earlier this year I lost my Father. This is my first Autumn without him. I couldn‘t call him on his birthday last month... the first Christmas is yet to come.
We all grieve in different ways. If we suppress our grief we often have panic attacks. Working with clients who are suffering from bereavement, one thing makes a huge difference. Somehow, being able to maintain connection. Telling people it’s time “to move on” is the most insensitive things anyone can do. After losing my first beloved cat, I felt that there was the world before she passed, and the world after. Time moving, felt as though I was on a boat taking me further and further away from her. It still feels like that with Dad.
So how do we maintain connection? This is easier for those of us who believe in an afterlife. We can feel that this is a temporary separation. We can feel our loved one with us at times and there is a bitter sweetness to this connection. Often working with clients, I discover that even those who don’t believe in an afterlife, continue to speak to their loved one. This helps to maintain the connection. I often recommend projects like creating photo albums, etc. Sometimes clients tell me it’s as though I’m giving them permission to have their loved one back.
Keeping a connection with those we love is the first step to healing. Somehow we feel less broken when we’re told to we can keep them. Our ancestors knew this, they had rituals and festivals to honour their dead. We can continue in their footsteps and find our own way to honour ours.