Death of a loved one: A reflection on ancestors

I got word earlier today that my great-aunt passed away this morning, and I have been very emotional over it. But my reflection tonight comes from the reason for the sadness. Though I knew her and loved her dearly, I wasn’t really close to her specifically. But, she was the last remaining member of her generation in my father’s family. She was my grandfather’s sister. And the only one of my great-grandparents’ children still with us. Ironically, today is what would have been her father’s birthday. So,it was a bit bitter sweet knowing that great-granddaddy finally had all his children with him again on his birthday. But again, that means an entire generation of our family is now gone (as my grandmother who passed 5 years ago was the last of her siblings as well). And for me, that also means the last generation of the family that didn’t fight and disagree and draw lines between each other. They were the glue. So, in crying over this to my best-friend and spirit brother, when I said she was the last in that generation, his response was “We will remember. She joins the ancestors”. This did give me a bit of comfort. But it made me think. There is a theory, or view point, now days that everyone is forgotten within 3 generations. In a lot of cases that’s true. Especially in today’s world. But that wasn’t always the case. Ancestors have always in almost every ancient culture and religion, been honored. And that is in honoring as far back as they knew; and it was far more generations than what most of us know of our own families now. And that was even before photographs were invented. We simply had stories handed down from one generation to the next. Genealogy and ancestry were kept record of as much as possible. If there were no pictures or written stories, they were told verbally. And yet now, in a time when we can hold literally hundreds of photos in a single device in our pockets, and can type pages upon pages of words and stories in a single day, and share those with the world in a single click, we neglect to record and share these stories. Ancestor veneration goes pretty much as far back as ancestors themselves. Altars were set for them. Offerings laid. Prayers sent both to them and FOR them. We told them our troubles and joys as if they were still here, because they are. And they would even aide in our prayers and magik if asked. And our spiritual being and magik were stronger then. And yet, we forget now to do this when, technically, we are more able to do so now than ever. I am guilty of this myself. So, my reflection is to implore all of you, myself included, no matter what path you follow, to begin to honor your ancestors in some way. Speak to them. If you don’t know all of them then just say “those both known and unknown to me who wish me well and look after me”. And start taking down the stories of the ones you do know about. Get off our phones and gadgets and speak to the elder members of our families still here, and ask them about their parents and grandparents and ancestors gone before. Take down or remember the stories about those still here with us too who will someday be our beloved deceased. Share these with your children and nieces and nephews and younger loved ones. Share your own stories from your own life so that when you yourself are a beloved ancestor, your memory can carry on and your descendants can know by your example, that you are still with them just as your ancestors were still with you. And let the cycle continue. So, for me, my way of honoring my great-aunt and all the others as well, will be to start this very night once again honoring my ancestors in some way, and taking down the stories both past and present, as ever as I am able, to be passed down to the future. Will you join me in reclaiming what should never have been forgotten? At least consider it. Blessings to you all.

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