Remembering the dead
Every year I say I'm going to participate in the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 2. And every year I forget to prepare. 2020 was no different.
My understanding is that the Day of the Dead is a day of celebration rather than mourning. Anyone can see why people would grieve after a death: Someone they love is gone, and the loss cuts deep. But that pain is usually rooted in the joy that loved ones gave while they were living. Why would we miss someone who brought no joy to our lives? Hopefully we're spending our energy missing somethings worth missing.
I've talked plenty about death and loss in various blog posts, as dealing with death has become part of my life over the last few years. I spent the first few years after significant losses attempting to deny the pain I was feeling. The strategy did not work, and my life improved only after I processed my grief and accepted the true weight of my losses. I had to look into the abyss and accept my own mortality and the mortality of everyone else I knew and loved and would ever come to know and love.
It’s better to conquer grief than to deceive it. —Seneca
Death is inevitable. It's the last act of life. And along with taxes, death is the only guarantee in life. When I think about death in such a way, I find it silly to waste time fearing it. My time is better spent focusing on maximizing the time I have with those I love because while death is guaranteed, living the good life is not.
And perhaps that's what we really fear.
It is not death that a man should fear, but rather he should fear never beginning to live. —Marcus Aurelius
I've often said that I would not wish my experience with death on anyone else and of course, I would not wish it again upon myself. But now when I look at who I have become and the deeper understanding and appreciation I now hold for the beauties of life, I can't imagine how I would be without those experiences. And when I accept that death is inevitable, I have to admit that I would only be kicking the can further down the road. I was destined to experience the pain at some point (unless I died before everyone else). Because I have found a way to process the grief and to learn from the experience, I am almost grateful for the hell I had to live through because having done so has led to the contentment I feel today.
And so, a day late, after having yet again missed the Day of the Dead, I celebrate and honor my dead with a reflection on what I have gained from my losses.
I love how Scott Galloway closes his blog posts, and so I'm going to steal it and use it for this post:
Life is so rich.