Remembering the dead

Remembering the dead

November is the month in which many cultures and religions remember the dead. The Day of the Dead, All Saints and All Souls Days, the Day of Remembrance and Veterans Day are some of the days when people in various parts of the world pause to remember and reflect on those who have died. As part of commemorating the deceased, there are various rituals observed that offer respect to those who have died and enhance the way in which they are honoured. single poppy

Why do we commemorate and honour the dead? Is it necessary or relevant for us who live in this world and are part of the living community?

As people who love, it is impossible to be unaffected by the death of a loved one. We grieve the passing of a loved one from this world, not only immediately after they have died, but for years afterwards. It seems that the greater the love, the greater the grief in terms of intensity and/or duration. Remembering the dead in this way, i.e. emotionally, is a direct result of having loved. Even with the passing of time and the diminishing of intense feelings, we still remember special dates pertaining to our loved ones, such as birthdays, Christmas and the anniversary of the death. Our remembrance and commemoration activities are part of the legacy of our loving. We continue to remember our loved ones because they have been significant in our lives, and through our remembrance, we acknowledge that they still have a place in our lives.

Then there are others who have died whom we have not known at all, yet for some reason we choose to remember them through participating in special occasions of remembrance. They may be soldiers who have fought a battle on behalf of our country or people who have died some other way in the service of others. They may be people who have died as a result of a natural disaster or a direct attack by fellow humans. They may be people who have displayed great courage and been a great example to others, or they may be people who have led relatively simple lives and have died with few friends and little resources. Why would we choose to remember and honour those whom we don’t even know?

When we honour those who have gone before us, we acknowledge the sanctity and value of people’s lives and their contribution to the world. It is in honouring the dead that we humble ourselves, for we acknowledge that our lives are not just about us, here on this planet at this point in time. There are others who have gone before us who have made their contribution, regardless of the duration of their lives, or whether they lived in the immediate or distant past. The lives of others who have gone before us have impacted our world in some way and therefore the way in which we live.

In commemorating the dead, we often express our desire for them to be free: “May they rest in peace”. For those of us with a belief in life beyond this world, it is the state of resting in peace that we would also wish to attain for ourselves. Perhaps when we remember the dead, we extend the same respect and dignity and desire for everlasting peace to others that we would want bestowed on ourselves.

We may not be mindful of the dead on a regular basis as we go about our daily lives, but our times of remembrance bring our attention back to the greater perspective of life and death and our own mortality. single poppy red.It is in remembering the dead that we are reminded that we too will pass on from this world.

 In this month of remembrance and in honour of all who have gone before us:

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them ( from The Ode of Remembrance)
About Margaret Lambert

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  1. What a beautiful blog Marg – both heartfelt and poignant particularly at this time of the year. “It is in honouring the dead that we humble ourselves” and …”we too are reminded that we too will pass from this world” brought pause to my busy morning. x x

    • Margaret Lambert says

      Thanks for your comments Bron, and for the pause in the morning that I can also try to incorporate each day xx

  2. Well written and mot poignant. Lest we forget!

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