HOW we marked November 1 and 2 this year was different from the ways we celebrated All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the past years.
Instead of visiting the graves of our departed loved ones, we were told to offer prayers and masses in churches, light candles and create altars at home showing our favorite pictures of our deceased loved ones. Instead of mourning, we were told to remember and celebrate the lives of those who died.
The Solemnity of All Saints (Nov. 1) and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (Nov. 2) are occasions to remember our departed loved ones and speak fondly of them. It’s a chance to celebrate their time with us no matter how long ago they have passed on and to find hope in the promise of an everlasting life.
It is true. We usually speak well of the dead, we remember nice things and only nice things about them. It’s a pity though that the dead can no longer hear our eulogies. But why wait until someone dies?
After my brother, Eugenio (“Gene”), died suddenly last October 9 after a stroke, my siblings and I set up a eulogy on the last night of the nine-day novena. Family members, relatives and friends took turns and reminisced on Gene’s time spent here. It was a beautiful celebration of his life except that he wasn’t around to hear us speak of what he meant to us and how much he impacted our lives.
From that experience, we decided in our family to try the idea of having an appreciation exercise or appreciation circle to be held every end of the month to celebrate those whose birthdays fall within that month. The birthday celebrators are alive and able to hear all the nice things that the others will say about them.
An appreciation circle is also called a gratitude circle which is not a formal activity like having a eulogy on the last day of the wake. A gathering or an event can be turned into an appreciation activity if participants agree on the purpose of it and how to go about doing it, and end up feeling good about the process.
There are no strict rules to holding your own appreciation exercise but there should be agreement on why it is worth trying, when they can sit down or meet in a virtual setting and how there is no need for the recipient to give appreciation back except to say thank you, too.
In the spirit of remembering lovingly our departed family members and friends, let’s start expressing to our living loved ones our appreciation of having them in our lives. When the time comes that they are called to the Lord, then we can reminisce on those appreciation circles and rest on the assurance that the dead know how much they meant to us. Wouldn’t that be nice?