Want to rub salt and vinegar in the weary wounds of the newly bereaved? Decorate your home like a scary cemetery with limbs and bones reaching from the ground. Dress yourself (and even worse, your child!) like a zombie — a decaying, walking “undead” — for fun. And what prompted this rant-like post, you might wonder? Could it be the last-straw
home house I drove past that featured fake, bloody-looking, severed heads hanging from a tree?
If these folks want to be cruel to friends, neighbors, and strangers after their loved ones died, congratulations — mission accomplished. Halloween “decorations” like these horrify many mourners.
Who cares whether little kids will be outside and see these scary things? Who cares whether children (or their parents) have recently buried family members, some due to violence? If they don’t like it, they don’t have to look, right?
If you enjoy a decor that makes the Addams Family home seem like the Little House on the Prairie, then good for you! But please confine the creepiness to the interior of your castle — you don’t need to inflict it on everyone who inadvertently stumbles across your street on their way to school or to work. And if you’ve invited a recently bereaved friend to your party I do applaud you for involving them — that’s great! (But offer them a heads-up on the decor so they won’t freak out when they step inside.)
Some people’s life-inspired nightmares already hold enough fuel to burn for a lifetime without you fanning those flames.
I’ve said this before:
My husband died about a month before Halloween. Fake tombstones and skeletons lined store aisles. I was a new widow, the unwilling owner of his cemetery plot. Holiday prop inscriptions labeled Rest in Peace were anything but peaceful. … Mock cemetery displays (complete with fake tombstones and skeletons) contradict the “peaceful” invocation to “rest in peace” (RIP). Many mourners despise them. … There’s nothing restful or peaceful about mock burial sites when you’ve had to buy a real one. — from Halloween Grief
If you want to decorate the outside of your house for a spooky but not sickening Halloween, stick with adorable witches, goblins, or even ghosts. Embrace historic, cultural, artistic Day of the Dead traditions honoring deceased ancestors. Let your porch pop with pumpkins, bats, and spiders.
But keep the gross stuff to yourself. Please. Yes, the U.S.A. is a free country with freedom of speech. But just because we can say (or display) a thing doesn’t mean we should.
A little bit of thinking how others might feel can go a long way toward helping grieving friends. At Halloween, please be considerate when dressing up yourself, your home, and your car.
(Rant over. For now.)
Beware of “Happy Halloween” and Other Hazardous Good Wishes
Belated Halloween Reprise (including a link to Megan Divine’s HuffPost Healthy Living “Halloween and Grief: When the Nightmare Is Real“)
I also wrote “Halloween Apologia” for Segullah.org.