New Zealand Day of the Dead

An enjoyable way to contemplate our mortality is to celebrate the New Zealand Day of the Dead. Held in spring, as celebrating life is so much easier when new life is springing up all around and the days are growing warmer and longer, it is an occasion to remember loved ones who have died. It is also an opportunity to emotionally prepare for death within the security of your family circle.
Here are some suggestions of ways to celebrate it:

  • Light a candle and talk about family members and friends who have died.
  • Celebrate with a family meal at which people discuss and share their wishes for their life and death, including funeral arrangements.
  • Write stories about the life of someone you have loved and lost. If everyone in your family, or circle of friends, adds a story every year, over time a biography will be compiled as a personal memorial.
  • Plant a tree.
  • Forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, or apologise to someone you may have wronged.
  • Update or revise your will.
  • Answer children’s questions about death in such a way as to take adult fear out of it.
  • Appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney.
  • Tell your loved ones that that’s what they are.
  • Choose a conservation project to get involved in; donate to an environmental organisation that you support, clean up a beach, clear old man’s beard from nearby bush…
  • Visit a funeral home and ask the difficult questions.
  • Find a way to make a positive difference to your world.
  • Set a goal to achieve within the next year.
  • Reflect on the events, achievements and blessings of the past year.
  • Change the batteries in your smoke alarm.
  • Learn more about the flora and fauna of your area. Why is it there? (Why isn’t it there?)
  • Check with your local council if any of their burial/cremation regulations or prices have changed in the past year.
  • Build a bird bath or pond to attract wildlife to your garden (if you don’t have a cat nearby).
  • Have a medical check-up.
  • Ask your local hospice or resthome if there is anyone who gets no visitors, and visit them, often. (Only do this if you genuinely care and are committed to keeping it up.)
  • Create a memorial garden.
  • Thank the people you share your life with for being there.

Make it a regular date with those you love.
You will learn much about them, and vice versa.
And the bonds of your personal community will strengthen.