Halloween Without

By guest writer Diana Doyle

Yesterday, while driving home from Dempsey’s school, a little voice from the back seat screamed, “Look Mommy!”

It appears as if overnight, the houses in our neighborhood have been transformed into grave yards for Halloween.  “Please can we take a look Mommy, PLEASE!”  My daughter Dempsey begged. We took a small detour and I was amazed at what I saw (note: we don’t celebrate Halloween in my home country, Australia).

Front yards have had extreme makeovers, looking more like something from the Twilight movie than suburban dwellings. Lawns have been blanketed with creepy grey headstones, skeletons are hanging from garage doors and fake spider webs float in the breeze. Dempsey loved it!


I know it’s all make-believe stuff, however, it does make me wonder how people who are in the thick of their grief must feel when they drive past these haunted houses?

I’m sure it must rattle them as it did me, as it’s a reminder of death. I’m curious if they have to hide their shadow of sadness or if they can see it for what it is?  Just a holiday…to some an excuse to dress up and suffer from another case of a sick stomach from eating too much gooey candy.

Holidays can be tough, you can’t just check a box, ‘choose’ option number one “Be Happy!”  Sometimes the multiple choices can be limited on special days.

I remember Savannah’s first and only Halloween.  She only got to enjoy one during her time with us in America.  Her nurse Marlene happily provided her with a witches black cloak, a massive hat and straw broom.  Demspey was only a baby, but we squeezed her into the cutest orange giraffe outfit.

Savannah was so sick, in the terminal stages of her disease, but I still remember the gracious smile on her face as we carefully dressed her frail body in the costume.  She was grateful to be just like one of the other kids that knocked on our door that night.  I have that one memory, and I find now memories can bring comfort at this time of year.  Sometimes, that’s all we have…

The temptation is there, to give in and wallow, and sometimes it can’t be helped.  But if ready for it, for the emotions, you can try to embrace the day, or whatever comes with it and not be afraid…

I can try to shift my thoughts to positive ones, and hope I will get an injection of appreciation, inspiration and smiles through the sparkle in my 8 year old daughter’s green eyes.  And not wonder what my missing child would’ve chosen as her Halloween outfit.

So on the 31st, I’ll actually look at the headstones in the yards as reminders to celebrate that I am alive, and so is Dempsey.  That we get to carve a design on a bright orange pumpkin, scoop out the sweet sticky seeds and focus on the happy smiling faces that will be parading down our street in different attire.

I think I’ll decorate our front door with flowers instead of skeletons, in hope of welcoming some familiar spirits into our house instead of scaring them away. Maybe my mom, or my sister, or Savannah will be around, watching to see I’m surviving and living life the way they would want me to if they were here.

I’ll raid Dempsey’s plastic pumpkin head that will be full of treats and eat too much chocolate to make me feel good!

This year I won’t wear a costume, I think I’ll just scare everyone and just ‘be me.’  Happy, sad, glad or wherever the mood takes me… holidays can be like that!

By guest writer Diana Doyle. Read more from Diana at her blog, www.sunshineinabluecup.blogspot.com.