Halloween is coming this weekend. Between planning parties, stocking up on candy for trick-or-treaters and studying ways to keep our kids safe, many of us have turned to contemplating the deeper meanings of Halloween. This time of year holds different meanings for different people—Christians, parents, Pagans, party animals—but it brings a few reminders that can make all of our lives richer. Here are a few lessons to learn from Halloween:
Remember the Ones You Loved
The many religions who celebrate holidays at this time, most notably Christianity and Wicca, have rituals to honor the dead. Some believe that the space between the world of the living and the world of the dead is thinner at Halloween. Whether or not we believe in such a crossover between the worlds, Halloween is a reminder of all of those who were here before, but are no longer with us. Let it remind you. Psychologists now know that no one truly gets over the loss of a loved one, nor should we. It’s good to remember people (and animals) who have touched our lives, even if it’s been years since they passed on. Take some time this season to reflect on the memories you cherish. Consider visiting a cemetery, columbarium or scattering site where someone important to you was laid to rest, or spend some quiet time with a keepsake urn. Enjoy the happy memories, and be grateful that this person was once a part of your life.
Western culture is in the habit of denying death. Although we all die, and most of us have lost people we close to us, we rarely admit that it affects us. Even aging scares us, as it brings us closer to the grave. We try to “get over” the deaths of our loved ones, put on a happy face, think positively, and look young for as long as we can. For us, more than most, it’s important to acknowledge that we will not live forever. Knowing that we have a limited time here on Earth makes every moment more precious. Enjoy the skeletons, gravestones and ghouls. Let them remind you how precious your life is.
Not all of Halloween’s lessons are dark! Remember when you were a kid, and you could be anything you imagined at Halloween? Growing up is no reason to give up that tradition. Halloween means things that would get you strange looks or worse the rest of the year—like decorating your house with bones and cobwebs, serving Jello “brains” to your guests, to going to work dressed like a space alien—are perfectly acceptable. Take advantage of this opportunity to express yourself! Take some time to play!