The saddest thing about having pets is that they don’t live as long as we do, we’re inevitably faced with the heartbreak of losing them. This time of year gives us the chance to remember them as 1st November is All Saints, the Day of the Dead. It’s been taken over by Halloween which is a celebration of nothing except shopping for tawdry gizmos and trick or treats but all Saints Day is a spiritual time and opportunity to remember lives and there’s nothing spooky about it.
The Day of the Dead gives us a chance to re-live good time and happy memories. Making a shrine is meaningful and something positive to do – decide on a special place, perhaps by your dog’s bed or by a windowsill where your cat used to sit. It could even be in the garden and outside shrines are lovely and can be a permanent feature.
It can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. A nice cloth on a small table is good, it could be velvet or in a deep, rich colour. If the surface is wood or a natural material that is fine on its own. I like to find a small mirror, nothing has to be fancy or immaculate on a shrine, it is better to be as it comes, life is filled with imperfections and your memories and thoughts are what count.
Some candles and tealights in pretty holders will look lovely when you light them at dusk. Focusing on candle light is soothing and spiritual, there’s something about the gentle flickering flame that is beneficial for the soul.
Our offerings to those who have passed before us can be any treasure we like and we think they would too. I use turquoise stones, shells, photos of friends and happy times, bits of ribbon, any memorabilia you like. If you’re remembering your dogs, then you might still have their collars or just a snap. I have a few strands of hair from a long gone horse, it brings back thoughts of his life whenever I touch it.
If it’s someone you’re remembering and you don’t have any belongings then words will do just as well. You can write your thoughts and a message down. If you make your shrine in advance then you can look at it and think about it until All Saints Day, there will doubtless be many pets and people you are thinking about and it gives you more time to remember them.
We all lead such busy lives but if you can make this an enjoyable day, there’s nothing sad about it. Celebrate the lives you have known, people around the world will be celebrating with you, special meals, music and whatever occurs to you – it might be a walk over the moors or a visit to a special place.
To speak of the dead keeps them alive, they are living in our hearts forever – this is true and I hope your shrine will bring you reassurance, happiness and comfort.