We live, we love, and then our loved ones die. The pain of grief comes and creates a hole in our life’s tapestry. Carole King so aptly sings about life’s journey in “Tapestry,” which begins with:
“My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue; An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view. A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold, a tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold.”
Many people in America encourage the grief-stricken to “not dwell on it;” perhaps death makes them uncomfortable. Some writers have noted that American society has evolved in a manner that keeps death hidden. One cannot understand the hidden. Other cultures commemorate the dead and just such a holiday has arrived that celebrates tapestry holes. Today, Halloween (Oct. 31st,) then All Saints Day (Nov 1st,) then All Souls Day (Nov. 2nd,) each focus on ghosts, saints and all those who have left us. In Mexico, on El Dia de los Muertos, or “The Day of the Dead,” people create altars to loved ones, visit cemeteries and light candles. In my home parish we bring photos of our loved ones to display on a table at the front of the church. They remain there until the end of the liturgical year; giving us nearly the whole month to reflect upon our dearly departed. Anniversaries come throughout the year, and though it may have been years or decades since the death, these special days can evoke loss. Often we feel discouraged from mentioning it to others as it may make them uncomfortable. My high school classmate, Renee Thornton Johnson, recently shared on Facebook her own experience regarding the anniversary of her mother’s birthday. She noted that she had planned to say nothing, relying upon her friends who sent their love to her to steady her. The very next day she decided that she should: “My Mom was worth me shouting from the rooftops how wonderful she was and how much I miss her!” She discussed the hole in her heart on her Facebook wall. I admired her bravery and responded as follows:
“We never stop missing our loved ones. Their presence has been woven in to our lives. Their departure leaves a hole. Over time the hole may get smaller, but the hole remains and is beautiful because it represents the love we have had in our lives. And what could be more wonderful than that we have been loved and have loved.”
I do not know the answers to life’s and death’s mystery; I choose to embrace it. We celebrate love in so many ways–why should this change with the death of a loved one?
Have a Productive Day,
Dear Reader, please share your comments and stories that are sparked by this piece. How do you spend anniversaries that remind you of your dead parent, spouse, child, pet or friend? See Contribute for how you can share a story at The Engineers’ Daughter.
Full lyrics to Carole King’s Tapestry
An article I found regarding American society and death.
For more information on Day of the Dead read this.