Living Columns & Blogs

Walk, talk, light a candle — fall is full of ways to honor and remember loved ones

Fall months in Centre County tend to be packed with opportunities to walk for awareness, to honor or remember loved ones that have or still are battling with health issues or other important concerns.
Fall months in Centre County tend to be packed with opportunities to walk for awareness, to honor or remember loved ones that have or still are battling with health issues or other important concerns. Centre Daily Times, file

In 2002 Nicholas Sparks wrote the novel, “A Walk to Remember.” It was a romantic story about the coming of age. Last weekend, I walked in an event to support research for and create awareness about chronic fatigue and dysautonomia. Rowe’s Research Runners raised more than $20,000 at this, their second annual event.

The fall months tend to be packed with opportunities to walk for awareness, to honor or remember loved ones that have or still are battling with health issues or other important concerns. This week, I saw folks gathered to walk to end Alzheimer’s. We’re all familiar with organizations that offer us these kinds of opportunities to raise awareness funds, and join with others who have been affected in some way.

I have walked in Centre Safe’s (formerly the Centre County Women’s Resource Center) Steps to Safety. I’ve walked in all but one Out of the Darkness Walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, where I walk to memorialize my mom.

I’ve walked in Relays for Life to support breast cancer research and cures for too many friends and family members who have died and survived. I’ve walked for muscular dystrophy, HIV/AIDS and for many other local and national causes.

Many have walked miles for a cause. Many walk to honor, remember and even celebrate the lives of loved ones who have died, hoping more treatments and cures will eradicate these diseases.

We walk together with others who like us have had people we love battle diseases or die. We walk together to know we are not alone. We might even talk to total strangers who may understand our feelings better than someone who has not been through a similar battle or loss. There is a sense of unity and community when we come together.

Also at this time of the year, cultures have created special holidays to remember their deceased loved ones. We have All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween, All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day and Dia de los Muertes to name a few that will occur later this month and in early November.

Nov. 15 marks Children’s Grief Awareness Day to remember young children and teens that have lost parents, siblings, grandparents and others. Wear blue that day to help raise awareness and remember a child or teen you know that is grieving.

World AIDS Day is Dec. 1 — sponsored by Compassionate Friends, it’s a chance to join others around the world by lighting a candle for parents who have lost children. The possibilities go on and on.

The theme of all these walks, special days and holidays are about creating times and ways to remember, honor and celebrate our loved ones. Their lives matter. We want to share memories and stories and join together with others who love and support us. There are countless ways to remember and honor loved ones. It could be as simple as enjoying their favorite meal together. Some have created scholarships, special events, planted trees. The list is endless but the purpose is the same: to remember our loved ones and share their life stories in ways that honor them.

Whatever your beliefs, whatever the cause, you can pause now or later to remember and honor those special people that have died. They have impacted our lives and we want to remember them.

Maybe you’ll do “a walk to remember” or just sit around with family and friends and share stories. Maybe you’ll engage in special activities like those of Dia de los Muertes and decorate graves with flowers or attend a religious service of remembrance.

So, walk on, talk on, sing on, whatever brings meaning to you and your loved ones. But do remember, honor, and celebrate their lives, their legacies, and the love that remains forever.

Evelyn Wald is a licensed professional counselor with the Individual and Family CHOICES Program in State College. This column is coordinated by www.ltlwys.org, whose mission is to create educational and conversational opportunities for meaningful intergenerational exchanges on loss, grief, growth, and transformation.
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