You get to die three times: once when you take your last breath, another when you are buried, and a third time when you are forgotten by the living.
Here, in our culture, death becomes a scary thing and we spend $5 billion on the Halloween holiday to dress up and parade around with this fall festival. Last week at the International Folk Art Museum a lecture on Day of the Dead altars in Mexico gave details on how the dead are kept alive. A three-tiered altar is made with marigolds and their scent and an archway above are to bring the dead back. Water to quench the thirst of the soul and other favorite foods of the deceased are placed there, along with mementos that remind the living of the loved ones who have departed this world such as a photo, a favorite comb or such. Sugar skulls made with molds (purchase via link) with the name of the dead are placed on the altar and shared with others. I've written elsewhere about Day of thte Dead here and here.
All Saint's Day (Nov. 1) honors the children, who are considered saints anyway. All Soul's (Nov. 2) honors all other dead. Something that I would consider adding to my folk art collection of Day of the Dead items would be a skull by award-winning ceramicist Jose Luis Serrano from Metepec via the Day of the Dead Folk Art Gallery. But here we do the art but not the tradition of remembering that is behind the art.
Gone, but not forgotten. I think it is a great idea to keep alive the memory of those who have gone before in a structured holiday of the celebration of lives lived and the legacy of memories. Who has time to go gather at the grave? Our families are all scattered, our focus is on our own living selves and death is a hushed thing. Our culture of individualism makes death a one-done deal.