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Monday, 31 October 2016

All Souls: Dealing with Death as it Should Be.


We published this a few years ago, but it's as pertinent today as it was then, so here it is again.

This weekend there was a wealth of death related activity, most of it the ghoulish scare-fest type. But beyond giggling witches begging tricks or treats Autumn also brings another centuries old tradition - the festival of All Souls.

Unlike Halloween, All Souls doesn't portray death as unreal or scary but rather an inevitable part of life's cycle that will affect us all, sooner or later.

Our own simple moving act of remembrance at St John the Baptist, focused on the expression of continuing life - the love that helps life go on after our world comes crashing down around our ears when someone we love dies .

I saw awkward gestures from men facing the need to express love physically to a parent - the reaching of a hand, or just a shared look; and I saw children instinctively understanding the rightness of offering simple comfort - a girl of seven or eight trying to stretch her small arms wide enough to reach around her weeping Grandma.

What I took away from the service most of all though was the simple realisation that this final element of life, hard though it is to bear, is a shared one.

In our own packed church I was surprised how many families I knew as neighbours or nodding acquaintances, but who I hadn't realised had been touched by loss. This is a cultural tradition to do with death that reflects its natural place in life - though tough to deal with - rather than the unreal and horrific depictions of Halloween.

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