Around this time of year, many choose to remember loved ones who have died. I’m not sure what it is about the air in November, but the past seems to linger and dance in ways it doesn’t during the other months of the year. Perhaps it’s the solitude that comes with cold weather and the annual transition to sad, slow Lana Del Rey songs.
Whatever the reason, it’s always difficult to remember the past, let alone experiences that were pretty depressing and traumatic. On top of that, this is the most stressful point in the semester for many. Classes and exams are ramping up ahead of finals week, and balancing that stress with the idea of remembering the dead isn’t very simple.
Despite what some professors would have you believe, school is always, always secondary to one’s own personal development. In a lot of ways, the things you learn are supplemental — you learn philosophies and concepts that allow you to understand the world and lead a more insightful life.
But in other ways, school contradicts the necessary, human experiences that we all share. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been shaken out of a period of grief or healing to complete an assignment or give a presentation.
For some people, this can be a great thing. After all, idle hands are indeed the devil’s workshop. For others, though, it means that they aren’t fully allowed to heal from their trauma. Instead of being allowed the time we need to grieve over the loss of a loved one, we’re pulled back to reality a few days after the funeral.
We live in a griefless society that doesn’t know how to talk about death. Instead of in our own homes, we often die in hospitals and assisted living facilities either around people we don’t know or completely alone. It’s a terrible, taboo subject that’s often overlooked, perhaps because we’re not prepared to confront the fears within ourselves and the issues with our society as a whole.
But confront them we must. Remembering the dead is important for a few reasons, chiefly being the fact that it’s an act of love for those departed. It’s a little bit of an ego trip, in my humble opinion, to fear being forgotten when you die, but I can also appreciate how many different cultures around the world allow their love to extend beyond the grave.
Marvel’s favorite red guy Vision delivered what is now a famous line about this, saying “What is grief, if not love persevering?” in the Disney+ original WandaVision. You can wipe the tears out of your eyes now, by the way.
Death is also something we’re all afraid of. This generation seems to have a lot more anxiety and existential dread than ever before, which is probably due to the fact that the world finds a new way to end every other week. Confronting the anxiety surrounding death is worth doing because it’ll allow us to come together to spite it. It’s something we’ll all have to deal with eventually.
If it helps, I like to think of death as a rollercoaster. As you climb the track, you have no way of knowing what comes after that climactic drop. You hear the people ahead of you scream, and it’s scary. When it’s your turn, you’ll finally understand what it’s like to fall. But until then, take time to appreciate just how high you’re climbing. The view only gets better and better.