Festival of Remembrance: the ones we’ve left behind
For October 29
This season brings to mind thoughts of ghosts and hauntings. Some of the earliest rituals I know of in this time have to do with appeasing the spirits of relatives and friends who have passed as they cross close to our world in this liminal space of time between solstices.
A compelling regret I often hear about is “I never told them.”
The remembrance festival day is about saying those unsaid things. It’s also a day to acknowledge our losses and make sure we’re facing those losses. Things we’ll never have because it’s too late.
In some cases, you have someone who is alive but who you’re not going to reconnect with the next festival because it’s a bad idea. They’re not dead but they’re dead to you. This festival is for those relationships too.
If you have one specific person you want to remember, focus your activities on them. If you have more than one, try to do an activity for the group.
The ceremony itself should be simple and short. If you have something that belonged to the deceased or a picture of them, make sure you put it up where you can see it. Ahead of the festival, gather favorite foods or drinks of the departed. (For people who have only departed from you, gather food you like but haven’t eaten since you left them behind.)
Make sure you have paper, a pen or pencil, and an envelope.
Festival of Memory.
Spend a few minutes with the object or photo that symbolizes the departed. Connect emotionally with your memory of them. Remember happy times and unhappy times with them.
Then write them a letter. If you’ve had closure with them, write them a letter about how you’re doing now. Things you’d want them to know about your life if you hadn’t talked to them in awhile. If you haven’t had closure, take the time to write the things you wish you’d told them while they were alive (or part of your life). Spend as much time as you need. (If the person you’re remembering is still physically alive, you can and should write about your disappointment in missing out what should have been the positive aspects of that relationship.)
When you’re done, seal the letter in an envelope. Write their name on the envelope and set it aside. Spend a few minutes in contemplation. Place the envelope with their object.
Then it’s time to eat and drink something they would have liked.
Leave the letters up throughout the festival days.
This one is specifically for people who have passed who you had a good relationship with. Please skip to the next one if you need to focus on a permanently broken relationship with someone who is still alive. This part will be a little sucky otherwise.
I’ve practiced most of this at one time or the other, usually in remembrance of my favorite uncle. I’m going to write up a different example using made up details for a relative I also made up.
On a shelf, I put up a mug from her favorite football team and a few other nicknacks that relate to her.
Then I write “Hi aunt. It’s your niece, Eve. It’s been awhile since we’ve talked. I want to thank you again for the things you’ve taught me. I think about you often. Since last time we spoke, I …”
I’ll keep the letter with the mug through the entire three day festival.
At this point, it’s time for food!
This is an example for someone who isn’t dead but who you’ve cut out of your life.
Take a photo or a memento that reminds you of the person and place it on a shelf.
Write, “Hi . It’s . It’s been awhile since we’ve talked. I mourn the relationship we’ll never have. It feels like everywhere I go, people are always saying how supportive their is but we could never have that. It causes me pain …”
Put the letter in front of the memento and stay a moment longer.
Now it’s time for some comfort food.
ETA: Festival of Reconnection