Grief at Halloween: It's Spooky Scary

Holidays and Special Days / Holidays and Special Days : Eleanor Haley

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I’m just going to say it: I don’t love Halloween. Please don’t be mad at me, and definitely please don't TP my house or anything.

I know many of you love Halloween and I support you in that, but it’s just not for me... not anymore. I have my rational reasons. For instance, I’m bad at putting together Halloween costumes, I’m scared of scary movies, and one time a monster scratched me in a haunted house.

And I have other non-grinchy reasons as well: As some of you know, my mom died in late October and so this time of year is always a little rough for me. I tend to feel emotional and distracted and, inevitably, Halloween always manages to sneak up on me (and I don't mean in a fun, scary sort of way).

I'm sure some of you can relate to my Halloween apathy. Or perhaps you're more ambivalent, or anxious, or some other 'a' adjective. My point is: Holidays can be difficult after the death of a loved one. I mean, we even have a whole section of our blog dedicated to this! Though we often think of major holidays as being the most difficult, we shouldn't underestimate the potential impact of traditions and grief triggers surrounding days like Halloween.

If Halloween is difficult for you, it's probably for reasons specific to you and your loved one. However, we'd like to discuss a few general reasons why Halloween might be tough for some grieving individuals.

1. You Have Bittersweet Memories of the Past

Annual events, traditions, and holidays are rife with memories of the past. This year inevitably reminds you of last year and of years before that. You may find yourself reflecting on years when your loved one(s) were alive, years when things seemed happier or simpler, or even years when things were very difficult.

After a loss, memories of the past gain new dimensions. A memory that at one point was remembered as purely happy can take on shades of sadness when it includes a person, place, or time that's gone from our physical reality. So, whether the memory is happy or sad, both can cause you to feel pain.

Does this mean you should avoid all memories of the past? No, definitely not. You lose far too much when you lock away all your memories, whether they're happy, sad, or mundane. Memory can be an immense source of comfort and connection, not just in grief, but in life. Happiness with a side of sadness is just something you have to get used to after a loved one dies.

2. Your Loved One Was A Baby, Child, or Adolescent When They Died

If your loved one was a child when they died, then you may also be grieving losses related to holidays they won't get to celebrate and experiences you won't get to share with them. For example, you might be consumed with thoughts about how old they would be and who or what they would want to dress up as. 

Unfortunately, Halloween grief triggers are very difficult to avoid. There are parties at school and work, decorations throughout your neighborhood, entire sections of your grocery store dedicated to candy and costumes. And, of course, the trick-or-treaters are out in full force on Halloween.

If Halloween is proving to be especially difficult for you this year, schedule a little extra self-care time throughout the week. And if you think it will be too difficult to hand out candy on Halloween night, plan to get out of the house by going to dinner, a movie, or some other non-Halloween related activity.

3. Halloween Symbols Are Bothering You or Are Distressing Someone In Your Life

Spirits, ghosts, tombstones, skeletons, and other reminders of death are everywhere during October. Adults may simply find it difficult to look at these symbols in the harmless and playful way they once did. While children, especially those struggling with questions like "What happens to you after you die?", "What happens to your body?, "Are ghosts real?", may find these images downright scary. 

If you are supporting a young child who is grieving, you may want to check in with them about how they are feeling about Halloween. Here are support resources for talking to grieving kids about Halloween from the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement and from the Dougy Center.

4. You're Just Not That Into It

Halloween is a pretty playful holiday. Some people really get into it. Maybe you even used to get into it, but this year you're feeling kind of 'meh'.  Grief takes a lot out of you and, in such times, you may find you need to conserve your limited amounts of energy and enthusiasm.

So here are the options as I see them:

  • Embrace simplicity. You may not have the option to skip Halloween because you have children in your care, your work requires you to participate, or for some other reason. If this is the case, try to keep things simple. Embrace store-bought costumes (Or maybe just go as a grieving person. People tend to find that very scary. I wish I were kidding). And don't forget to ask for support from family and friends. 
  • Skip Halloween if you have the option. Leave the decorations in their boxes and go to a movie on Halloween instead. Take comfort in the thought that maybe next year you'll feel more up to it (or maybe not, and that's okay).

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41 Comments on "Grief at Halloween: It's Spooky Scary"

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  1. Ellen  November 3, 2021 at 8:05 am Reply

    This year the same day in late October, just before Halloween, was both the six month anniversary of my husband’s passing, and also the anniversary of a traumatic experience we went through with his former hospice that is, unfortunately, the only hospice in our large rural northwestern California county.

    My husband’s first hospice enrollment ended when they basically dumped him without warning over the course of a nearly 3-day county-wide power outage, while he was sick with a serious infection. He was alternating between severe agitation and unconsciousness, where I couldn’t rouse him.

    The hospice staff were suddenly stunningly hateful towards us. It was like a horror movie where the nice townspeople suddenly turn into crazed zombies. It was an abusive and very badly handled discharge.

    He wound up needing to be taken to the ER in an ambulance just after Halloween that year. One of the EMTs urged me to file a formal complaint against the hospice for abandoning him in that condition. At the ER, when I told the nurse on duty that he’d just been discharged from hospice, she looked at him crumpled up on the gurney and burst into tears. The ER nurse wept in distress over it. It was that bad.

    Almost exactly a year later, he was re-enrolled in the same hospice. It was a terrible, degrading 6-month enrollment that included actual literal incidents of abuse by staff members towards us. It was horrific. My husband ultimately had a terrible, air-starved death because of them. They refused us help while he was dying. It was a deeply traumatizing experience. He was a lovely, sweet man, and the thought of him suffering like that is truly a form of real-life haunting.

    This time of year will always be associated in my mind with my late husband’s hospice abusing us.

    • Litsa  November 30, 2021 at 7:22 pm Reply

      Oh Ellen, I am so incredibly sorry for what you went through. I am not sure if you have already, but if not speaking with a therapist may be useful, or considering a therapy like EMDR that can help with such vivid, painful memories.

  2. John  October 26, 2021 at 9:56 am Reply

    Four years ago, Oct. 30th was the last day my wife was at home before with us before going to the hospital in an ambulance after a fall. I was by her side praying and holding her hand for 10 days, before she died.. We never had a chance to say goodbye or anything else. This time of the year is now mostly a sad reminder of the worst time in my life. Oct. used to be our favorite month of the year with all the fall colors and the Thanks giving celebrations. So, husbands and wives…..don’t wait till something serious happens before saying and doing the things you should have said and done while your spouse is still with you……..because you may live to regret not having expressed your love as much or often as you should have. I didn’t tell her how much I loved her or bring her flowers nearly as often as I should have, and now the only place I can bring flowers is to her grave. We were together for fifty two years, and I always thought that I would be the one to go first as I was the one having the heart attacks and the pacemaker… I look forward to is that long sleep from which there is no return. Georgette……I miss you so much and will be loving you always….

    • Litsa  November 1, 2021 at 11:38 pm Reply

      John – I am so sorry for the immense grief you are feeling. Please know that there is always support. You can reach someone any time at the suicide prevention helpline at 1-800-273-8255. Please remember that, though it is easy to focus on regrets in grief, it is equally as important to remember the many small moments that you had together over many years that are the the things relationships are made of.

  3. Melissa E Black  September 20, 2021 at 4:12 pm Reply

    My mother passed away on Halloween 2020. Mom was a hospice patient at home but still wanted me to do cpr when the time came. The time arrived and I did CPR as requested. I wasn’t supposed to get her back but I did. Mom momentarily regained consciousness and looked at me as she struggled to breathe. I never felt so helpless in my life. Mom then fell unconscious and I restarted CPR and as I did compressions I reminded myself that mom was a hospice patient. As I did compressions I asked my children one by one if they were ready to let grandma go and each one answered ” yes”. I then asked myself if I was now ready to let my mother go and I then lifted my hands off my mom’s chest . I then got my stethoscope and listened for a heart beat. Mom’s heart was still beating. Ugh…that pain.. moms heart continued to beat for a minute then it was all over. I just felt so helpless.

  4. Sharon Buckley  October 28, 2019 at 3:17 pm Reply

    My parents passed away 9 years apart my mom 2002 my dad 2011 I have my sons to celebrate with their dad and my twin brother it’s not the same when they were alive

  5. Jeanmarie  October 27, 2019 at 12:50 am Reply

    My company makes a big deal of holidays, with teams competing for the coolest decorations for their areas. I’ve been there not quite 2 months and people are obsessed with elaborate halloween decorations, including black garbage bags stuffed and tied up to look like body bags. It’s really macabre and turns me off, quite aside from the grief I already feel from losing the love of my life to a murderer’s gunshot 18 years ago Oct. 1. I just try to ignore the decorations as I don’t want to explain why I’m not into Halloween and damp anyone else’s fun, but it’s not easy sometimes. I haven’t been interested in Halloween since I was young enough to go trick-or-treating and that was about 50 years ago. I look forward to it being over.

  6. sandy diener  October 25, 2019 at 11:47 am Reply

    my Lydia took her life on January 20 2016. she was 23. I found her. she hung herself. LIFE IS NOW HELL

    • Anja Bates  October 2, 2020 at 1:38 pm Reply

      From the moment I saw the Halloween decorations I’ve been in a constant state of anxiety. My son and I
      decorated more for Halloween then we did for Christmas. I even had a graveyard in the front yard with stones and on each one I had the true names of our deceased family members. He knew they were deceased. Plus animals that were part of our family. After my mom passed I stopped doing that. As my son got older I would take him to this fantastic costume store in Sacramento,CA . He would get the most horrid creepy masks. He loved it. I would still decorate. But June 19, 2019 two days after my son turned sweet 16 , he was swept away by the current of the river,his aunt and her boyfriend were with him. Devin my beautiful young man was held 10 feet under an outcropping of rocks and drowned. I’m the only one left now on my side of the family. He had a large family on his fathers side but we were seperated since Devin was three. He and I were very close and remained close to his great grandmother ( who turned 99 this year) his grandma and aunt who was more like a sister being only 5 years apart. She goes to his cross with me and we do some things together and my sons school paid wonderful tributes to him. A two page layout in last years yearbook. They let us have his memorial in the theater where he last performed Much Ado About Nothing. I would have to say 200 at least showed up. It’s been a year and four months on the 19th. Ive been crying more and more as the back to back holidays come up. Yesterday I had my first experience congratulating a clerk that told me she had just received news that she was to be a grandma. I loved being Devins mom more then anything in the world and was looking forward to showing him that I was going to be a fantastic grandma to his children one day. He would have been a senior this year. But, I’m going to his cross with a Halloween bouguet that I made from black and grey fake tree leaves (his favorite color, purple) 2 purple fake roses and one black with a fake skeleton of a scorpion. (He loved scorpions since he was young, when he found out that was my zodiac sign) Three pumpkins and some solar garden lights. One pumpkin I drew bats on and one small one I wrote a letter to him encircling the pumpkin and sprayed both with acryllic so it will keep longer. The big pumpkin will have his name and then a fall bouguet with a little scarecrow because his class made one and it was displayed on our Main street in town. I’m balling as I’m writting this. I feel so alone .To make matters worse I have a Narcissist boyfriend. When I realized what I was dating, I kept them seperate. I try to be normal around friends but I keep to myself a lot because its just easier I guess. When I did hang out with some friends I talked nonstop and of course a lot about Devin. I don’t even know how to be normal anymore. I’m 52 and the one and only true love of my life passed away. I literally pray that I don’t live to my
      ” golden” years. Im not looking forward to haveing all of my friends showing me pictures of their cherub grandbabies. Of course being happy for them, then crying alone in my room. Or what if I end up in a nursing home, where I wait at the front door asking every young man if they are Devin and here to see me. Or being that little old lady who buys a life like baby doll and naming it Devin, and acting like its really him when he was young. Ive seen both of those things happening when visiting my boyfriends father at the nursing home. Sorry, Ive written a lot. It breaks my heart that my son wont be woken up on Christmas morning by his children all excited to open their gifts while holding his wife happily. That was actually one of his secret wishes that he had for himself(at 15 he told me this.) Or that he wont get to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris like he wanted to . Both of our hopes, dreams and futures that we looked forward to. Gone in an instant. I was at home getting ready for his 16 th birthday bash and was going to pick him up. While I was changing is when I got the phone call. To all of you who have lost you babies, Im so very sorry. I know the loss, we all wish we didn’t know it. I’m decorating because I know he loved Halloween. And I love him, so what else can I do. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Anja Bates , Devin Allen Dodson’s mom. Rest in Peace dear sweet young man. 6.17.03-6.19.19

      • Diane Paquette  October 22, 2020 at 1:43 pm

        Oh my, how your post is my post. I to lost my only son Clayton Feb1/20.
        Most everything you said is me.
        Thankful, I guess Iam not alone with these thoughts.

      • Maria  October 25, 2020 at 8:50 am

        I am so sorry for your loss. That is heartbreaking. I lost my 30 y/o son in June 2020. I also know heartbreak.

      • Cindy Kaplan  October 31, 2021 at 2:13 am

        Thank you for sharing all of that. Devon and I share a birthday. I’m so sorry for your pain
        We both lost our sons in 2019. Jon’s 2 year anniversary of his passing is coming up. He was 29. I wish we were in Covid lockdown still. I don’t like going back to a “semi” regular life. Jon died and Covid happened right after.
        I share your misery. Some days are better than others but I’m always heartbroken.
        I have another son. I grieve for him because he will never be the same due to the loss of his only brother/ sibling.

    • Carrie Martell  October 19, 2020 at 2:51 pm Reply

      my son’s birthday is on Halloween. He will be gone 4 years this year. We generally have been having a memorial on his birthday, but due to covid we are not this year. Because we are not, I am extra sad. I don’t want people to forget him.

      • IsabelleS  October 20, 2020 at 12:29 pm

        Carrie, I am so sorry for your loss. It is beautiful that you continue to honor your son each year on his birthday. Even though you cannot hold your usual memorial, are there other ways you can commemorate his life? All the best to you.

    • Maria  October 25, 2020 at 8:46 am Reply

      I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my 30 y/o son in June 2020.

  7. Joe  October 24, 2019 at 9:34 pm Reply

    Halloween is just one of hundreds of “triggers” (wow do i HATE that word) that happens to my wife and me. We lost our 17 yr old son and think about all the “fun” costumes we dressed him in over the years. What should be a wonderful memory has become pure HELL every year! We resent families who haven’t lost a child having a GREAT Halloween. This was not us before, but is now.

    Only those have had lost a child know the constant hell we live in daily. We wish it were different, however it isn’t.

    This is our reality now. ;(

  8. Sylvia  October 24, 2019 at 8:55 pm Reply

    Halloween was meh..for me until my neighbors and I got together and partied in the driveway around my chiminea and handed out our candy. One of the neighbor’s birthday was November 1 and he loved the holiday, dressing up in a scarecrow costume and scaring the kids. The year he passed away that of course ended the entire thing. Back to hiding in the dark lol…

  9. Gary Boyce  October 24, 2019 at 7:37 pm Reply

    What was once a fun start of the holiday season day is now just another day of loss and grief. This will be only my second year after my wife passed from lung spread to brain cancer at 62. I hated last year and this one is already feeling worse. I no longer celebrate holidays- I just endure them and let all around me celebrate. I shall put on my smile mask from time to time for my kids and grandkids but it will be an empty one. I will wish others the Happy Holiday greetings and then need to endure the pain as they wish me “happiness”. No this is the start of a horrible 3 months where every day inflicts more pain arrows through my heart. I lost my wife and lost my life. I merely wait and hope to one day not wake up and every now and then curse the fact that I do.

    • Laura  October 25, 2019 at 4:26 pm Reply

      Although I can never truly understand your pain, I can relate. I lost my mom in March of 2018 and life has lost is shine since then. In my darkest moments of grief, I often wish my tears where my blood and all my tears would cause me to just bleed to death. I know that is intensely dark, but it’s my reality. People say it gets better, and I can see that I’m learning to live with it – since I have no choice, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face. I’m sending you empathy and maybe a little strength.

    • Melissa E Black  September 20, 2021 at 4:07 pm Reply

      My mother passed away on Halloween 2020. Mom was a hospice patient at home but still wanted me to do cpr when the time came. The time arrived and I did CPR as requested. I wasn’t supposed to get her back but I did. Mom momentarily regained consciousness and looked at me as she struggled to breathe. I never felt so helpless in my life. Mom then fell unconscious and I restarted CPR and as I did compressions I reminded myself that mom was a hospice patient. As I did compressions I asked my children one by one if they were ready to let grandma go and each one answered ” yes”. I then asked myself if I was now ready to let my mother go and I then lifted my hands off my mom’s chest . I then got my stethoscope and listened for a heart beat. Mom’s heart was still beating. Ugh…that pain.. moms heart continued to beat for a minute then it was all over. I just felt so helpless.

  10. Barbara Chapman  October 24, 2019 at 2:17 pm Reply

    My husband died 4 1/2 years ago. Halloween was always something we had fun with together. Dressing up and going to friends parties or going out dancing. One of the last photos I have of the two of us before he got really ill was us at home in costume handing out candy at the door. But, my daughter’s birthday is on Halloween. So no matter what else I’m feeling I can’t help but feel good about that day, the day of my daughters birth. We are allowed to feel many different emotions at the same time.

  11. Rachel Eden  October 24, 2019 at 12:36 pm Reply

    My older sister was killed in a train accident on the 25th of October and we buried her on the 31st. The irony of spending the day in a cemetery was lost on me until I got home and saw all of these children in costumes asking for candy. I was so confused at first. In my fog of grief and devastation I had forgotten all about Halloween. The grief still washes over me all over again every Halloween. I miss her so.

  12. Gabrielle Lacasse  November 2, 2018 at 9:21 am Reply

    My was with my ex-partner for 3 years, we broke up in 2015. The last time I celebrated halloween was in 2014, where we both planned and dressed up as Mexican Sugar skulls. Halloween was special to us and we always made it a big thing. In July 2018, he passed away. Our breakup in 2015 was traumatic, and when we passed away in 2018 I still hadn’t grieved the loss of our relationship. His death tore my heat open and I still haven’t managed to start grieving. I’ve just put it in the back of my mind, unable to cope with the feleings.

    I didn’t know this Halloween would be a trigger for me… Until this week i was hit with a wave of anxiety, fear and sadness. I didn’t understand it and I didn’t even relate to his death. Tonight I was about to leave to go to Halloween party with friends, and I just broke down in tears. I couldn’t do it.

    Grieving an ex-partner is such a process.

  13. paper service  October 31, 2018 at 10:37 am Reply

    Halloween features can surprise and frighten with their special atmosphere and thematic symbols. This is a great opportunity to find a suitable costume character.

  14. Missy  October 29, 2018 at 4:24 pm Reply

    Although not exactly Halloween, I haven’t allowed my 5 year old daughter to see the movie, Coco. My son died when he was 16, and I had my daughter two years later. She has spent more time at a cemetery than any 5 year old should, and I don’t want to confuse her. We can’t interact with the dead. They don’t visit us. We can’t visit them, and I think understanding death is a hard enough concept for anyone (I still can’t believe I will never speak to or touch or laugh with my son again. How can that be?) let alone a child. She thinks its unfair, and maybe I am making too big of a deal out of it, but for the foreseeable future, we are skipping Coco.

  15. Kathy Seibert  October 29, 2018 at 11:46 am Reply

    October 30 marks 46 years since my best friend was hit and killed by a hit and run driver as we were walking down the road. For the first couple of decades, I absolutely hated Hallowe’en. No one and nothing could make me partake in any of the festivities. Eventually, time softened those harsh feelings, but I still don’t really care for that day. To add to the holiday burden, my dad died at Thanksgiving 2009 and my mom on Christmas Day 2005. Sooo, holidays really aren’t my thing anymore, but I don’t sink into a funk like I did in the 70s and 80s. In many ways, my own grief experience has provided valuable insight into my job as the bereavement coordinator for hospice, so I actually have taken my losses and turned them into something that hopefully provides some healing for others.

    • Patricia Monroe  November 14, 2018 at 5:19 pm Reply

      Isn’t it a blessing when we can take our losses and our grief and use it to help others. My losses and grief led me to become a Grief Counselor. I imagine that you use your unique experiences to help others grieve their losses.

  16. Michele Buchanan  October 28, 2018 at 6:58 pm Reply

    I lost my boyfriend, my love, best friend and soulmate last year on Halloween morning. He was driving to work and was hit head on in a high speed crash by a guy who fell asleep while driving. He was trapped in the car for over an hour before being rescued, he hung on for so long until they took him out of the car and his aorta ruptured. We were going to hand out candy that night. This year has been indescriable hell. I will forever hate Halloween, I have to put on a happy face for my 2 grandkids tho. I just dread that day…a year! I’m heartbroken still..

    • Rebecca  October 28, 2018 at 7:30 pm Reply

      I’m so sorry, Michelle. My son passed last year and holidays and changing seasons are very hard and each day is a struggle.

      • Rebecca  October 28, 2018 at 7:32 pm


  17. Fran Goode  October 27, 2018 at 12:08 am Reply

    My husband and I had never spent a week at the beach. Halloween was my favorite. Ocean Lakes at Myrtle Beach has the best Halloween activities so I rented a house and off we went. It poured rain for the first two days and there was a king tide. David’s chest was hurting but he insisted that he had pulled a muscle from carrying around his fishing equipment. So our week was not perfect with him in pain. I begged him to go to the hospital but he refused. Our week ended and we drove home to North Carolina in a driving rain and flooding conditions. That was on Sunday. Monday night he called me from work and needed to go to the hospital. I drove him to a local hospital and he was having a heart attack. He was transferred to Levine’s in Charlotte, NC. He underwent surgery to place stents in his veins and heart. On Thursday they sent him home. Then early Saturday morning, November 7, 2015 I heard him stop breathing. I jumped up screaming, called 911 and began CPR. Three of David’s fellow Rescue Squad members came charging in to take over CPR, electric shock, drugs injected into his heart but he was gone. I will never see Halloween as my favorite holiday again. Widowmaker heart attack.

  18. Sandy  October 26, 2018 at 11:14 pm Reply

    I hate October ,I hate Halloween !!!!!
    I lost my little girl on the 25th she was only two years old .
    I just want it to be over!
    She would be 5 years old now An would love to go get all the candy she could

  19. Deb  October 26, 2018 at 6:08 pm Reply

    From the non-human side of the pond, I don’t like the reminders of Halloweens past because once our beloved feline fur-son was gone, I couldn’t stomach handing out candy at the door anymore. He was the fearless one of our two (while his sibling sister would hide upstairs until the noise of doorbells and children was all done), so would accompany me to the door, perched atop my shoulder and arm. Me playing “human tree” for our furkids was a normal part of our days together, but the children got a big kick out of it, exclaiming to their parents, “LOOK, mom/dad!!! It’s a BLACK CAT on that lady’s arm!!!” I remember being so surprised at *their* surprise the first time this happened, because to me it wasn’t anything unusual at all! (didn’t ALL cats ride around like this?!) So our furboy was a star attraction, and I, his adoring pet parent, was always so delighted that his presence seemed way more exciting for these kids than were any decorations or candy.

    His last Halloween with us was different though, as he just wasn’t interested. I was unaware at the time that the cancer that would later take his life was already in his system. After we lost him, and since his sister had never cared for all that human traffic anyway, we began a new tradition of unplugging the doorbell, going dark, and quietly having our dinners while watching TV, with our fur-daughter in my lap, until it was over. Once we lost her too, there were a couple of attempts to participate (one dance, candy stuff), but I still hated it. It still hurts, and probably always will, so still a big NOPE to Halloween. All I do now is send a black cat e-greeting to some family and friends, in honour of my ‘boy’s’ holiday.

  20. Astrid  October 26, 2018 at 6:02 pm Reply

    Good post, but one sticky point for me on your comment “Embrace store-bought costumes or maybe just go as a grieving person, people tend to find that very scary “. I wonder if a grieving person would really want to go trick or treat disguised as a “grieving person.” Any thoughts anyone from anyone in the throes of grief?

    • Deb  October 26, 2018 at 6:26 pm Reply

      Astrid, yes, I’d forgotten to add a comment about that line! Since it’s been many years for me since my worst losses, I actually rather enjoyed that idea (even though we don’t go to any costume parties), partly because I’m a fan of wry ‘humour’ and people ARE very scared of both grief and the grieving, it’s very creative, and mainly, it could possibly open up some really deep conversations if you were asked “why?!,” as I’m sure you would be! Any chance to enlighten others about the topic and help undo the western world’s plague-like avoidance of grief, is one I would VERY much welcome…even if — or maybe *especially* — if some tears were able to be shed and shared as a result. As quoted, “Grief shared is grief diminished”– Rabbi Grollman. But I don’t think I’d suggest it for anyone whose grief is still too fresh.

    • Mary Andol  October 27, 2018 at 11:06 am Reply

      Astrid, I like the idea of going disguised as a grieving person, but what does that look like? Some cultures tear a piece of their clothing, others dress in “sackcloth and ashes”. The tradition of dressing up started, I think, as dressing up to look like our ancestors in their honor. This made complete sense because the following day is All Saints Day, and it was a good excuse to have a party. I wish I could send you my favorite Halloween photo. My daughter was maybe four or five, if that old. My mother made a white “satin” gown and cape trimmed with white sparkly Christmas tree garland. And then I was the fortunate soul who had to apply the makeup (shudder!). For some reason my daughter wanted to go as a “little, frozen dead girl”. I must say that it turned out realistic looking in an unreal way if I do say so myself, but I remember telling her that it was going to give me nightmares. There was even this goo to put in her hair to resemble icicles. So I took her to a neighborhood and watched from a distance as she ran from house to house, cape flowing, an unearthly ghostly figure in the twilight under the street lights. Finally I was standing at the porch of a woman’s house where she waited with the bowl of candy for the kiddies. As my daughter ran across the yard, up the steps and stood in front of the woman, I watched the woman’s delighted smile and heard her say “What a pretty little . . .” and then her facial expression turned to one of horror as she saw my daughter’s face and finished ” . . . uh, little girl”. It was hilarious!
      Two years ago I met the funeral director to make arrangements for my daughter’s service. She was 21 and died suddenly. Her body had been returned from the mandatory autopsy, and I had been struggling with whether or not I wanted to see her one last time. I was the one who found her body that day. The director advised me against it saying that I didn’t want to see her “that way”. I said, “you’re right. she probably looks like this” and I pulled out my phone with the photo of that picture I had taken years before of the little frozen dead girl. I don’t know how we managed to do it, but we all burst out laughing. So yes, I am in the “throes” of grief and always will be. But I think that if I had to dress up this year, it would be as a big frozen dead mother – or maybe a rabbit or a cat – or maybe as “The Monster in the Darkness” from OOTS (she won a trophy that year for best costume, and she made it herself! She was 16.) Lots of good memories, but I’d have to change the tradition and dress to honor my descendant instead of my ancestor.

    • The WYG gals  October 27, 2018 at 11:07 am Reply

      Ha, yeah Astrid- our grief humor doesn’t always strike a cord for everyone 😉 Though our grief does have a tendency to scare MANY people, it might not be the *best* costume choice!

  21. Amy  October 26, 2018 at 4:03 pm Reply

    My brother moved in with me to die and he decided that he wanted to go to NYC the day before Halloween to a play he had always wanted to see. I took him and he was so sick but insisted we go to a 5 star restaurant even though he couldn’t eat. It was bittersweet but he loved NYC so much. I just remember that trip now and don’t care about Halloween. He was gone a month later.

  22. Sandy Frankel  October 26, 2018 at 3:50 pm Reply

    100% agree.
    My son died in Nov-two days before Thanksgiving. From Oct to Dec I am in a trance.
    I live in a neighborhood that goes insane and crazy on Halloween. Kids come from all the neighboring cities, and everybody decorates.
    Year One ;lights out hide upstairs until the 1200 ghouls & goblins are off the streets.
    Year Two: Left the state
    Year Three: Surrendered-handed out candy until 8:00 pM-ran out, lights out and hid.
    Year Four: Had my sons girlfriend give out candy, she is from another country and found it fascinating.
    Year Five: I am dreading it, and actually anxious about it. I stocked up with 2000 pieces, decorated some ( my son works for Disney, so lucky me, I got some leftover Disneyland decorations ) I will sit on my porch and do my best, but I think I am throwing in the Halloween sacrifice in the future.

  23. Leanne Porterfield  October 26, 2018 at 3:12 pm Reply

    Agree, agree! However, for many simply turning off the lights and sitting in the dark is the option chosen… this, as well, may not be the healthiest. Plan to go out to dinner (an adult restaurant) with a friend… as shared, go to a movie with a friend, in other words make different memories. Having said that, know that it’s okay to sit alone in the dark once in a while if you need the quiet, you need the ‘space’… get to know yourself and your ‘thresholds, so that you’re ‘aware’ of the times when you can/should be alone and the times when you can/should be with friends or family. But above all, in agreement with Rea, know that it’s okay to step away from a holiday… and when you’re ready, it’s okay to create new holiday traditions… thanks, Rea… great thoughts…

  24. Dawn Kincade  October 25, 2018 at 1:44 pm Reply



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