By Herman M. Lagon
ALL SOUL’S Day, observed on the 2nd of November and by many on the day before, forms an integral part of a three-day observance that encompasses All Saints’ Day and All Hallows’ Eve. Rooted in Catholic traditions, the day offers a poignant moment for believers to remember and pray for the departed. In the Philippines, where the majority identifies as Catholic, these traditions and practices interweave with local customs, lending the observance a distinct cultural richness. However, beyond the surface of rituals lies a deeper narrative that emphasizes the importance of mental health in our modern context.
The Philippines is notable for its vibrant celebration of All Souls’ Day. Families gather at cemeteries to pay their respects, sometimes even camping overnight. The cleaning and decorating graves are not just acts of remembrance but also gestures of deep respect. Lighting candles, for instance, is believed to guide souls on their journey or ensure their return to visit the living. Such practices, though rooted in religious customs, often blend with superstitions. Noisy processions are believed to wake the dead, church bells are thought to guide souls to heaven, and preparing special meals marks the spirit’s return.
However, while customs and beliefs associated with All Souls’ Day vary, a common thread remains: the human need for connection, be it with the living or the departed. The act of remembering is therapeutic, offering solace and a way to process grief. It invites us to find goodness in all things, even in mourning. The focus is not just on remembering the dead but also on the internal reflection and peace it brings to the living.
Yet, as we dive deep into these customs, it is essential to remember the importance of mental well-being. The tradition of remembering the departed serves as a reminder that dealing with grief is a journey, one that requires care, time, and support. Schools and workplaces, in recognizing these traditions, are encouraged also to address the broader conversation around mental health. Acknowledging our emotions, finding solace in shared experiences, and seeking support are steps toward a healthier mind.
Moreover, as Filipinos gather to celebrate, there is also a communal acknowledgment of collective grief, loss, and remembrance. This shared experience becomes a form of communal healing. While the graves are beautified for the occasion, the essence is in bringing families together, emphasizing connection and unity. Filipinos show that mourning is not a solitary act but a collective experience, a shared journey toward healing and acceptance.
In today’s fast-paced world, where emotions often take a backseat, traditions like All Souls’ Day serve as a pause button. They allow introspection, remembrance, and a realization of the transient nature of life. This is not just about remembering the deceased but understanding and prioritizing our mental and emotional well-being. The message is clear: while we remember and pray for departed souls, it is equally crucial to care for the living, to prioritize their mental health, and to ensure they are emotionally well-equipped to handle life’s challenges.
Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.
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