Friday, October 21, 2011

Death, Graves, and Halloween

I was driving the kids to school the other day and while I made the turn out of my street, my eye caught a gravestone, skeleton and gruesome head coming out of the ground on my neighbour's lawn.  I still felt sick to my stomach as I kissed the boys and sent them on their way.

I couldn't stop thinking about what I had seen and how it had made me feel.  I went to work that day and spoke to Candace about what had happened.  Was Halloween going to mean something totally different, now that Zack died?  Will we decorate our house like we had every other year to be the "creepy" display on the street?

I'm the type of mom who decorates for EVERY holiday, and yes, last year, we had a gravestone, bones and a bloody sign on our door.  And yet, this year our Halloween container still remains in my basement.  The boys have been bugging me to "get our scare on" this year, but I've been hesitant to bring the decorations upstairs.  I really just thought it was because I wasn't really into celebrating ANY holiday...but I'm starting to realize that it was because of what Halloween represents.  Seeing the makeshift grave on my street made me feel so sad.  Having just lost my son, I make several weekly visits to his gravesite. Zack's grave, surrounded by Elmos and his photo, brings me such comfort and strengthens my sense of spirituality...not fear and macabre.  It's where I go to be closer to heaven or maybe just close to his body where I last saw it.  It's actually a place where I find peace and quiet...not ever imagining that it could also be a place for witches and goblins.

I had to remember some Halloween history when I started to write this post and I was interested to reread the origins of the holiday. Historically, November 1st was considered All Saint's Day, a day to commemorate the saints who had died and scare away evil spirits.  On All Soul's Day, November 2nd, the celebration was about praying for the souls of loved ones (who were not saints). October 31st became the Hallow's Eve before these two celebrations and has evolved over time into a night of fear, costumes and sugar.  According to Native American philosophy, it is the time of year when the “veil between the two worlds is the thinnest.” It's the time when the spirit world is closest to us and most connected to our physical world here on earth.  It might actually be a time when the spirits of those who have died feel even closer to us and signs become clearer.

When I asked Ty and Jayden about the house down the street, they thought that it looked so "awesome" (they obviously had not made the connection that I had made).  I certainly wasn't going to mention that their brother was actually at a cemetery and that Mommy didn't really feel like having a graveyard on our lawn this year...

So what do I do? 
Is THIS our new Halloween decor?
Do I fess up and tell them that it makes me upset, risking that I ruin Halloween for them? 

Do we go to the Dollar Store to stock up on new spider webs, bugs, witches and pumpkins instead?


Do I decorate my house like everyone else with severed limbs and skeletons?

This is one of my fave Halloween Photos of me and 2 of my guys....

12 comments:

karengreeners said...

I think you can tell the boys, 'Let's do something new this year!' and off to Dollarama with you. Maybe pick a theme - The Biggest Spider Web On The Block, or Here There Be Witches. You can have fun without the macabre, and I'm guessing that the smiles on your boys faces can only help a mama heal. xo

Maria said...

I like the idea of pumpkins, witches and spiders. You can let them decorate with that fun dollar store spider web stuff and little critters, and put mini-pumpkins all over the house.
{hugs}

Kath said...

I think you can definitely talk to the boys about trying something different this year - make it a fun shopping trip for a new theme. We always go with cute, pumpkins, hay stacks, orange lights and lots of little decorations around the house and the kids love it. I never feel comfortable with the scary, graveyard stuff either. Make it whatever feels comfortable for you. For the kids it is all about having fun decorating and getting into the spirit - I know whatever you do your house will look amazing!

Sharon said...

Oh Heather.....it never even occurred to me that Halloween decorations could make you feel that way and yet it makes so much sense. And if you're feeling that way, I bet many others are as well. I think you should take the boys out and shop for all new stuff - let them pick and choose but guide them away from what will make you sad. xo

TJZMommy said...

I hadn't even thought Halloween would be a big deal...Zack was always sick and hated the costumes, so the holiday was really for our other boys.

Ty and Jayden mentioned decorations again last night and when I listed what we should use as decor (spiders, webs, etc.) Ty asked about gravestones. I was honest and told him that they made me sad because of Zack ....my sweet kid said, "yeah mom, I understand" and came over to snuggle with me.

I'm a lucky mommy.

wratwrds said...

I've been thinking of you since I read this story on Friday. Honestly, Heather, I like to think Zach will be there with you, closer than ever, on Halloween. There enjoying it with you.
There might some stuff in the container you can choose and use, with some new, fun stuff that everyone will feel good about.
(((Hugs))) @writewrds

zchamu said...

I'm not a big fan of the ghouly, creepy part of Halloween at the best of times. I like the more PG version no matter what.

Lisa said...

Witches, spiders, big hairy rats. That's how we decorated this year. I love the Dollar Store. We change our theme from year to year. Good thing too, since I lost our decorations from last year. Seriously, how does one lose a bin of decorations, in their own house?? Also, what's really scary, is I've already eaten half the Halloween candy and I'm going to have to venture out to Wal-mart tomorrow to buy more. Frightening!! Of course, this is my attempt to make you laugh. I can't imagine how hard every holiday must be. The photo of you at Zackie's grave... I have no words.

Lorette said...

I am touched by your post...I hope that you were able to enjoy Halloween and now All Saints and All Souls Day. Your little Zack is now an Angel in your life. Hugs

Michelle said...

Heather, I read this and my heart sunk very low. It reminded me of the year I battle the same feelings. My best friend who lived across the street was killed at the hands of her husband who then took his own life. Not the same thing, not even close I understand but that first Halloween I was 'I don't know what to do." Every year our house was the spookiest one on the block (halloween is my favourite)but that just felt sooo wrong. The symbols of death just felt like a huge betrayal, disregard and heartwrenching. Our entire family had been turned upside down but my kids didn't understand why 'everything' had to be different. Truthfully I just wanted something to be normal too. I compromised with myself, went out alone (to avoid the conversations and explanations) and I bought new decorations, scary but not related to death & dieing. I brought them home and we decorated (ok the kids decorated, I mostly bawled my eyes out)It was a compromise, I would have loved for someone to just say to me it's okay to do this, but that wasn't going to happen so I just did what felt right in my own heart at the time. I think that is the best you can do. Much peace and love to you Heather and your family on your journey & healing

Rachel said...

This hit home hard. We were at a pumpkin patch the other day and there were headstones as decorations. One was suppose to be a funny rhyme about their dead son Charlie.
It really really bothered me to see that. I thought it was just me, nice to know I am not completely nuts :)

BLOOM - Parenting Kids With Disabilities said...

I love that it came up naturally with Ty and you could explain why it makes you feel uncomfortable and "he got it!" xo