One of my tai chi instructors is dying, and so over 25 of us went and did a set of tai chi on his lawn while he and his family watched from the living room window. It was very moving. I was grateful for the opportunity to tell him I cared and to let him know that he wasn’t forgotten.
Birth and death are two sides of the same coin, but North Americans shy away from discussing death. When I was in Mexico, I went to a wonderful craft museum in Ixmal that was full of papier mache skeletons. There were skeletons on bicycles delivering bread with their girlfriend on the handlebars and a whole funeral procession of skeletons – priests, young children, mourners. Life and death, joy and sorrow, were fully integrated.
Mexicans believe that during the Day of the Dead it is easier for the souls of the departed to visit the living. They hold picnics at the graveside, and they build private altars with favourite foods, photos and memorabilia. That’s a foreign concept in North America; however, my family dedicated a park bench to our mother, and I like to sit on the bench and talk to Mum, to continue a conversation that has only been artificially ended by death.
Note: My thanks to ladysail for the wonderful photo