TOTD 10/29/17: Do we have any rituals for our passed on loved ones?

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Lemon Merchant
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TOTD 10/29/17: Do we have any rituals for our passed on loved ones?

Post by Lemon Merchant » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:05 am

How do we remember our deceased loved ones? Do we have any special rituals or customs, religious or otherwise to remember the dead people formerly in our lives in some capacity?

I ask because this is a hard day for me. Today marks the fifth anniversary of my wife's suicide. I'm not looking for sympathy, but as I was driving home from the cemetery today, I was thinking about how I remember Andrea and the things I do to keep her memory alive. As is customary in my profession, I am curious about how the human mind works and the little rituals we go through in our lives.

Andie was a chemist. Cute as a button, with a ready laugh and a great sense of humor. She was also a very good cook and she loved to throw parties. She made our home happy and welcoming to all who came here. That is, until crystal meth took her. She deteriorated with her addiction. She would try to get clean, only to relapse and relapse again. Finally, she couldn't take it any more and took her own life. There is a lot more to it than that, but that is the Reader's Digest version.

I had a hard time the first couple of years, but now I choose to remember what I wish about her. The negatives, and the anger have faded and I only remember the good things now. Her smile, her laugh, her touch, her grace.

I have a weird little ritual. On her birthday and anniversaries like our wedding, and today. I wear my wedding ring. I go to the cemetery and we talk, or rather I talk. Maybe she can hear me and maybe she can't. I'll never know, but it's a comfort thinking that she can. I also leave a single lily behind, because she loved them.

So that's me. How do you remember your loved ones?
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shadowplay
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Re: TOTD 10/29/17: Do we have any rituals for our passed on loved ones?

Post by shadowplay » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:21 am

I visit my great aunt's grave in the summer, she raised my dad. I haven't dealt very much with death in my life. 3 of 4 grandparents were dead before I was born. The 4th lived overseas and I didn't know her well. Given my tendency to panic over small things, I hate to think how I'd respond to someone close to me dying. The only deaths I've really dealt with were pets.

I had no idea you went through that, Lemon. :( (shadowhugs)
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Re: TOTD 10/29/17: Do we have any rituals for our passed on loved ones?

Post by Synsensa » Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:38 am

As crass as it may sound, I don't think anyone has died in my life that particularly mattered to me.

Which is strange as a lot of people have died. My dad, my grandparents, school friends, even my first girlfriend. I can't remember their deaths really impacting me. When my dad died, the most I felt was relief.

I do nothing to remember or honour them. I don't think I can even remember when they died. My dad died in May when I was 15. That's about the closest I can narrow it down to, and that's only because my father intended to kick me out on my birthday (in June) and that would only be legal if I were 16.

When 'invited' to wakes, funerals, and other death-related events, I have a policy to abstain. I don't derive anything from the experience and I don't like playing into whatever benefit others may receive from it. I'd rather not be involved at all or on more practical terms like helping them out with necessities. I don't understand the concept and know enough about myself that I could not contribute to the process.

In hindsight my reply is probably most unhelpful or irrelevant.

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Cutlass
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Re: TOTD 10/29/17: Do we have any rituals for our passed on loved ones?

Post by Cutlass » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:41 am

That's awful, Lemon. :( Hugs.

I haven't had many deaths close to me. My family has done well in that regard. 2 of my grandparents died before I was born, the 3rd when I was a small enough child that I'm not sure If I have any actual memories of him at all, or just remembering stories. The 4th lived nearly 103 years, spanning parts of 3 centuries. My father died about a decade ago. Some of my aunts and uncles have died, and 1 cousin. In the near family we don't have any rituals. Don't even visit the graves often. Mom hasn't gotten around to having a gravestone put up yet, even though she can easily afford it. Otherwise we are a long lived group, on both sides. I'm told my grandmother sill has a cousin alive over 100 years in New Brunswick, although I've never been able to make it to one of the family reunions. My aunt in Maine is 95.

Lexicus
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Re: TOTD 10/29/17: Do we have any rituals for our passed on loved ones?

Post by Lexicus » Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:08 pm

Lemon, I am so sorry you had to go through that.

I don't really have many rituals. I have been fairly lucky as far as the humans in my life go, in that only a few close to me have died. The deaths that have affected me the most were actually all of cats. When my dad's parents passed, for example, one had Alzheimer's, the other had highly advanced dementia. The sadness and loss had taken place over the previous year, and when they finally died (within about a week of each other) it was more a relief than anything. They were already gone before they passed away, and their suffering and pain ended.

Anyway, I don't really have rituals of remembrance for those I've lost. We will toast them sometimes at family gatherings though.

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Valka D'Ur
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Re: TOTD 10/29/17: Do we have any rituals for our passed on loved ones?

Post by Valka D'Ur » Mon Nov 06, 2017 3:22 am

Condolences, Lemon.

I don't have any rituals, as most would think of it. My last grandparent died last year (my mom's mother, who outlived my mom by a couple of years), and I'm sure it probably bothers my aunt (the only person from that side of the family with whom I'm on speaking terms) that I didn't attend her memorial, but the fact is that considering not one of them told me my mother's cancer was out of remission three years ago and the first I knew of it was an email saying, "Dear ____: We expected this. Your mother died yesterday", why on earth should they expect me to give a damn about anyone else? Sure, my mom and I weren't on good terms for most of my life, but I was raised (by my dad's side of the family) to consider it a duty to keep family informed about stuff like this.

So the deaths that matter to me are those on my dad's side of the family. July 13 was hard this year - the 20th anniversary of my grandmother's death. She had Alzheimers and my dad and I were one day away from taking her to the hospital because we just couldn't care for her anymore... and we found her dead on her bedroom floor.

It was a rigamarole with the cops and coroner (the coroner was the only one who expressed any sort of condolences; the cops were too busy trying to find an excuse to accuse my dad and me of killing her), and when it was done that day, we had an unexpected other issue to deal with: the funeral home. My grandmother hadn't wanted a funeral; she'd willed her body to science, but the university only takes bodies if there's been no autopsy. Since she died at home, an autopsy was mandatory.

I eventually had a breakdown that summer; I was thisclose to suicide. Thank goodness I realized in time that if I did that, there wouldn't be anyone I'd trust to take care of the cats (I had four at the time, and my dad had a cat and dog).

But something did come out of that whole experience: my dad finally quit drinking. He was clean for 10 years before the dementia took his mind. He doesn't remember any of that now, nor does he remember being a heavy smoker (he has COPD now).


Other deaths... there have been a few classmates over the years, a number of my old teachers and acquaintances, a few friends, some people I knew from online forums, and other than my dad, every close family member I ever had is dead. I remember the anniversaries in various ways and degrees, and the cats' anniversaries are hardest. It's coming up the 10th anniversary of Gussy's death later this month. I'm going to be an absolute mess on November 26.
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Narz
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Re: TOTD 10/29/17: Do we have any rituals for our passed on loved ones?

Post by Narz » Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:44 am

My best friend from college committed suicide after a long depression & previous suicide attempt that left him in a coma for a few days. I'd like to honor him in some way but have no ritual. Sad to say I remember him less & less each passing year, it's been about 13 now & I can't remember his voice.

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Valka D'Ur
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Re: TOTD 10/29/17: Do we have any rituals for our passed on loved ones?

Post by Valka D'Ur » Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:22 am

Today is the 10th anniversary of my Gussy's death. He walked out the back door and I never saw him again. It was a bitterly cold night - not one that an elderly cat with arthritis could have survived outside. I have to assume he froze to death, as I never found a body, and no one I asked had seen him.

Gussy came to us mysteriously - a small kitten who appeared one day in the back yard (also during a cold time in 1993). I was desperate to save him before he froze some night (the milk and food we put out for him was frozen by morning, and we saw little frozen tongue tracks in the milk where he'd tried to drink). Finally we were able to catch him and take him inside. It took a couple of days before he would trust me enough to come out of hiding, but after the first time he let me pet him, he was so very affectionate. He had a loud purr, like a lawnmower, and at first he didn't understand "meow". He'd lived part of his less than 8 weeks with the squirrels in our back yard, and spoke squirrel as his first language (yes, seriously).

After Gussy was introduced to the other cats (had to wait until he was 8 weeks old and had his shots before I'd let him be with the others), he gradually became more of a cat in speech and habits. It was quite a shock to the squirrels in the spring when he want outside and they discovered that their little friend had grown up to be One Of Those Cats. He never chased them, though, or tried to bother them in any way. He tried to climb the trees like he used to as a smaller kitten, but by that time he had grown too big. So he gave in and decided to be a full-time cat, instead of a squirrel.

Gussy himself decided I was his mom. He'd suck on the neckline of my sweaters and shirts, as some kittens do when they're too old for nursing but still want that kind of comfort from their mom - and Gussy was still young enough to want his mother at the time he came to us. He did grow out of that behavior, of course, and my grandmother was horrified that I let him do it at all... but it was a way that we bonded, and he was just so happy to have someone who loved him and took care of him.

I had him for 14 years. He died 10 years ago, and I still miss him terribly (and can barely see what I'm typing right now...).

Rest in Peace, Gussy.
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Cutlass
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Re: TOTD 10/29/17: Do we have any rituals for our passed on loved ones?

Post by Cutlass » Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:34 am

Sad to lose a pet you've been so attached to. They do become part of your life.

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Re: TOTD 10/29/17: Do we have any rituals for our passed on loved ones?

Post by Valka D'Ur » Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:44 am

Maddy is 10 now and pretty healthy so far. Still, that day will come when I'll have to take her to the vet. At least this time I won't be left wondering where she died or if anyone treated her remains respectfully.
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