I have always loved Halloween. 

As a kid, it was about scoring as much candy as possible. In my teenage years, it was a night when I could justify getting into trouble. And as an adult, I have totally loved costuming-up for Halloween parties.

Halloween now has a new meaning for me. My mom passed away on October 28, 2005. A few hours after she died we set October 31 as the date for the funeral.

At the time I thought, “Well this really sucks. From now on Halloween won’t be fun because the day will always remind me of my mom’s funeral.”

My mother’s funeral was a spectacular East Coast autumn day… clear, crisp and sunny. As I noticed signs of the changing season, I remembered something that I learned from my study of and participation in Native American traditions.

According to Native American philosophy, the time between Halloween (October 31st) and All Souls Day (November 1st) is the time of year when the “veil between the two worlds is the thinnest.” It is the time when the spirit world is closest and most connected to our physical world here on earth.

That perspective shifted how I felt about my mom being buried on Halloween. Instead of it being a bummer, it was now a gift. Suddenly it was “pretty cool” that my mom’s funeral was on Halloween.

The next Halloween, one year after my mother’s funeral, I participated in a sweat lodge ceremony – a native American prayer tradition, conducted inside a sweat lodge, which looks like an igloo but feels like a sauna. As the ceremony began we were reminded that the end of October through the beginning of November is a powerful time to connect with the souls and spirits of people who have passed on.

During that sweat lodge ceremony I felt my Mom’s presence in a big way, much more so than at any other time since her death. It was incredibly powerful and enabled me to see and experience how I can still have a profound connection with my mom, even though she is no longer here physically on earth.

It’s now been 16 years since my mother’s passing. Over the years I have found that the intense pain and sadness has lessened, and the overall missing of my mom has increased.

If you are experiencing grief from the loss of a loved one, I encourage you to take advantage of this special time of year and connect with the people in your life who have passed on. Allow the feelings of sadness and grief to be fully felt. Take comfort in special memories. Remember and honor all that you loved about the person. Ask for guidance and support. This is a powerful time of year to reconnect.

In memory of:
Barbara Ann Schubnel
1943 – 2005