Halloween finds its origin with the Druids, who glorified death with worship to their god, Baal and to the devil. In contemporary times, the denial of death has been more commonplace – certainly in our western society. For example, Halloween today, with its costumes and popular symbols of skeletons, ghosts and grave stones are merely distractions and a boon for economic profit. One might say the same's true of the computer games and fantasy movies, which routinely feature killing and violence. Ernest Becker, in his 1973 landmark book, Denial of Death, suggested that the idea and fear of death “stalks the human animal like nothing else.”
It has been suggested in recent research studies, that rituals resembling the Mexican holiday, “Day of the Dead” would help us balance our view and fear of death. I’m pleased to share that we are becoming more open to talking about, and acknowledging, the reality of death and its affect on the bereaved.
The hospice movement has helped with that philosophy. Check out episode 17 of the popular series “This Is Us,” where you’ll find the characters portraying dying and grieving for friends and family as part of the human experience. It reminds me of the highly successful HBO series “Six Feet Under,” which aired in 2001 and ended in August 2005 after 63 episodes filled with visual images, honest communication and black humor.
How will you celebrate HALLOWEEN today? Will you TRICK yourself into denying death – utilizing silence and distractions, as coping mechanisms? Or, will you TREAT yourself, by acknowledging the reality of death and thereby living every day to its fullest?