While death is a taboo topic among many, Halloween is ‘alive and well’ in the community. With restrictions in place, the usual tour by children of the neighbourhood may not happen this year but there will be large numbers still marking the day. The Christian Church also thinks about those who have died especially among the faithful, commemorating the 1stNovember as “All Hallows’ Day” or “All Saints’ Day”. The United Reformed Church tends not to recognise the day, which I think is a shame. But many communities around the world have a holiday and party with enthusiasm. They remember with some passion those who have gone before, making the memory of past lives part of their own life in the present.
November has become the month of remembering, a dark month to think about and reflect on lives past and the heritage they have left to us. Next week, among the falling leaves of autumn we will remember those who have died in warfare – our ‘enemies’ and our ‘friends’; a chance to ponder on the cost of conflict and pray for peace. It is with thanksgiving we learn to appreciate what past lives have contributed to the lives we live now.
In Judaism, people often say, when they hear someone has died: “May their memory be a blessing”. We remember and celebrate them but also give thanks for what their lives mean to us.