Saturday, October 26, 2013

Avoiding Halloween

Please note: This post has disturbing images from the scene of my son’s death that you may wish to avoid.

Ten years ago, I scouted out weird Halloween displays in front yards to show my kids. Our own strobe-lit porch had giant spiders, skeletons, Day of the Dead ornaments, unearthly didjeridu music, and hundreds of trick-or-treaters. 

This October, when I walk in my neighborhood, I am assaulted with ghoulish images that are someone else’s idea of fun. I am surrounded with effigies hanging from trees, a daily reminder of images I am trying hard to forget. 

When I found my son hanging in the garage, the scene was so macabre that I thought it was an effigy of him someone had strung up for a prank. I couldn’t believe he had done this violence to himself. For weeks, I was haunted by details of the scene, especially the sight of his bare feet dangling helplessly above the ground—a place no human feet should be. I wonder if anyone who has seen a loved one hanging can ever look dispassionately on a hanging scene at Halloween, much less in a movie or a historical photograph. I still can barely stand to look at rope, or even the word ‘rope.’ These things are my enemies, doorway to nightmares. 

I didn’t count Halloween on the list of tough holidays I anticipated this year. But the profusion of hanging figures, open coffins and RIP gravestones disturb my peace. There is no RIP for people who kill themselves and the ones they leave behind. Every day is a day of the dead for survivors. Every triggering effigy, another sign that I am walking the mourner’s path, as if at a great distance from the everyday.  


  1. I am so so sorry you were the one who found your son. It is one thing I have been thankful for, that I did not find my daughter hanging, someone else did. But Halloween is the anniversary of her death, so I have my own reasons for avoiding the "season". This must be an especially brutal time for you. Sending you love and strength.

    1. Thanks, S, good to hear from you. I'm this time of year is doubly cursed for you. I know that you found your way to creating a Dia de Los Muertos altar for your daughter and that it became an outlet for you and others who loved her. Not sure if this has become a tradition with you? I guess we must all invent new traditions now to replace the ones we used to have . . .