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Reclaiming the Hallowedness of Halloween

By Henry-Cameron Allen

October 28, 2023

©2023 All rights reserved

As autumn's chill adorns spider's webs and pumpkins with morning frost and stirs fallen leaves of red and gold, Halloween awakens familiar grief in Peregrines - parents who have outlived our beloved children.

Secular traditions amplify the sting, transforming innocent costumes, playful candy skulls, witches' finger cookies, and eerie decorations into haunting reminders of moments once taken for granted.

Over time, I have found ways to reclaim the sacredness and real sweetness at the root of this holiday.

In my role as an international Grief and Survival Counselor, I love to share the rituals and perspective shifts that have brought me solace over the past 180 full moons since my son, Cameron - my only child - passed due to brain cancer at age 13.

Together, we Peregrines, who miss our beloved children, can infuse Halloween with reverence and meaningfulness amidst distressing triggers. Where symbols once evoked heartache, we can kindle their enduring light.

Why is this season so piercing for us Peregrines? Halloween's whimsy contrasts the premature end of a child's physical journey, no matter their age or manner of transition. Joy-filled costumed children echo precious memories and future moments lost.

Makeshift cardboard graveyards, woeful gauze ghosts hanging in trees, and hollow plastic depictions of the undead peppered across our neighborhoods confront us with the stark reality of separation, taunting us as if mocking our deepest pain. The dreaded doorbell rings. Someone else's (living) children want candy. It can be brutal. Neither trick nor treat…

When my grief swells like waves, threatening to bowl me over, I turn to soothing rituals. I decorate my child's resting place with favorite items, recounting cherished stories. In this, I find inspiration from the Día de Muertos ofrendas of Mexican tradition, colorful shrines with photographs, treasured belongings, and favorite foods. These altars, born of loving memories, allow joyful days to live again. This ritual can be especially comforting for families, teaching grieving siblings meaningful ways to connect.

As night falls, I light the darkness. Candles become holy beacons signaling, "This is still your home. You are welcome here." When emotions overwhelm, I practice self-care - allowing myself to feel fully, leaning into my grief, finding quiet communion with nature. I remind myself that no matter the tsunami's force, I can float, and it will recede once these difficult days have passed.

This season gently reminds us that the spirits of our children transcend imagined boundaries. Though their physical form is gone, their light endures within us and through us. By reclaiming Halloween through loving rituals, we can feel their essence more potently. Our private grief is then absorbed into the holy collective.

There will still be ups and downs on this winding path - grief's journey is nonlinear. But rituals anchor us, just as our children's eternal light sustains us. When we are open to it, with each passing year, the true hallowedness of this season is revealed and deepens.

I hope these insights bring comfort amidst Halloween's hurdles. When haunted by memory's specters, stay open to your child's radiance pouring through. Their light lives on within you. Indeed, it has been there all along.

Together, we can transform the "haunted houses" of grief into sacred sanctuaries, honoring those we carry closest within our hearts.

Another ritual that inspires me is the giant kite-flying ritual in Peru, where grieving families attach photos of loved ones to enormous, colorful paper kites, sending them aloft, high into the sky. This symbolic act lifts spirits in a collective celebration of remembrance, and, like beautiful elevators, invites the ancestors to join in the celebration of life. As a meditation, make time to explore how humanity grieves globally. Be inspired to create your own unique annual Autumnal rituals that bring you comfort.

Now, more than ever, Peregrine connection and community are vital. As darkness and violence compound worldwide, these rituals help us process collective trauma amid personal loss.

Even in overwhelming times, our children's spirits endure, guiding us forward. Their light transcends human barriers when we honor their memory with grace. Our ancestors are near, which now includes our kids, and changing seasons cannot contain them. We honor their everlasting spirit and our own resilience with the grace that only comes from the purest love and wisdom... and the occasional Butterfinger.

Surviving Parents Getting There Together...

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