Tag Archives: ceremony

Happy Death Day

11 Mar

It’s a weird anniversary and even weirder to remember. My mother died twenty eight years ago tomorrow. It was sudden, unexpected, and changed my life forever. But I have trouble remembering it every year. Why can something so profound be forgettable?

I didn’t grow up with elaborate remembrance rituals for the dead. The belief I grew up with is that they’re in a better place, that there was a purpose for it, and that we need to celebrate their life. None of which helps the grieving person at the moment, but what can you say? “Life is chaos, be kind?”

And at the time, truly nothing can help, except being there for the person in that moment. However, at some point, we have to move on with our life and not wallow in our grief. I return to my mother’s gravesite every time I come back to my hometown, and because she’s not the only one, I visit my grandparents, my brother, and two of my childhood friends graves as well.

However, it was much later in life that I was introduced to the concept of “yahrzeit,” or the anniversary of a loved one’s death. It’s a simple ceremony–you light a 25-hour candle, say a prayer, sometimes put up their picture, and welcome the spirit of your departed into the house. Think of it like Dia de los Muertos, but with a flexible schedule.

During that day, I feel as if the spirit of my departed one is with us in the house, sharing our lives, and it’s a very moving experience. Is the actual spirit with us or does it just force me to remember their lives for one day? It doesn’t matter. It reminds us that those who got us there are not lost in our memory–even if I forgot it last year–and that they can be with us.

I do this with all my departed relatives, as does my wife, and have all the pictures nearby in a box. I do need to buy another candle this year, but since I’m writing about it, it’s more likely I’ll remember this year. Sure, I could do it anytime, but there’s more of a connection on the actual date than any other time. Eventually, no one is left to remember them–and at some point, us–but as long as we remember their stories, they are more than just a name on a page or a stone somewhere.

Well, that’s depressing. Do you do something similar? Do you find comfort in grave sites or memorial services? Is it a waste of time? Let me know in the comments below!

And while you’re at it, check out some of my books! Or if $1.99 is too high a hurdle for you, download some of my stories for free!

“Wind, Fire, all that kind of thing!”

6 Jan

The Placebo Principle teaches us that even if you know a treatment is a placebo, it can still work… and doesn’t that mess us up? So when you invoke the spirits and place the four elements in corners of the room, I ask myself, “Can it hurt? Can it help?”

My wife is the mystic in the family; I tend to look askance at that subject, but I’ve received benefit from meditation. I’ve had the spiritual retreat and the high that comes from it. She also encourages us to use alternative medicine, which in my experience, works just as much as allopathic medicine for minor aches and issues. However, last night, she wanted us to do an Indigo Healing for our kids.

Now if you have no idea what an Indigo Healing is, I’m not surprised–I’ve seen a lot of strange mystic stuff, and even this is pretty weird for me. Indigo Children are generally folks who have been blessed/cursed with some sort of supernatural abilities. They also tend to be ADD… like me and my kids. The idea (as I understand it) is that you are carrying some trauma from your past life and that is preventing you from reaching your ideal self.

O-kay… yeah, sure. So you can do a ceremony where you identify what issues you have, participate through a series of activities that help you heal from those issues, and then free yourself of that trauma. Does it work? Sure. I mean, there is an emotional release, you do feel a bit better from the experience, and it has a noticeable long term emotional improvement. However, I get the impression that it’s less about the “healing” than the ceremony.

You start off by creating a sacred space, placing the four elements in each corner, already priming yourself to take this seriously. You then chant phrases, you do actions, everything that you might expect from a religious ceremony. It also takes a frickin’ hour (?!), which really seals in the importance aspect. You are forced to be a participant to confront many of these issues… even if you pick them at random and are not exactly sure which things you’re healing at any given time (but you can guess).

As you can imagine, I’m not particularly sold on it. From my own religious practice, my weekly service lasts 2-3 hours, and it’s hard to keep focused throughout the whole thing. Thankfully, our tradition states you don’t have to be there for all of it. However, when you’re forced to stop and pause and sing and think about your relationship with God, you have those moments of clarity that make the experience worthwhile. Sure, you could pray by yourself anytime… but you don’t. You have to take a moment and force yourself to connect with the infinite.

Is it a placebo? Is it a healing? For me, it doesn’t matter–because it works on some level. What about you? Have you had those moments that you’re not sure are effective but somehow effect you anyway? Let me know in the comments below!

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