October is my favorite month of the year and Halloween, my favorite holiday. I remember my first party cake having little witches and ghosts on it since my birthday falls around this time and since then, I’ve always had an affinity for the supernatural and frankly, dead things.
A few years ago, my therapist asked me why I love horror movies so much. As a child, I grew up watching “The Exorcist,” “Halloween,” and whatever else my friend Tiana had in her parents’ collection. Totally inappropriate? Maybe. But it was the 80s and that meant we kids stayed out until sundown and Halloween meant streets full of trick-or-treaters way past our bedtimes. My only reason for the love of death and horror is that even as a youngster, I knew that life could be rough. So, I wanted to prepare myself by seeing unimaginably scary and horrible things so I could be ready if or when my life took a turn for the worst.
The kids we work with can’t verbalize some of the trauma they’ve been through because how do you put into words, the feelings and turmoil associated with daily violence? Watching those you love die in your arms? Cheating death every single day just to do simple things like walking to school? It’s nearly impossible to share that kind of deep emotion with others who cannot begin to imagine what it’s like. The work our fall issue’s hero, Caitlin Doughty and her team at Undertaking LA and The Order of the Good Death, are doing is important because so many of us have faced trauma and continue to feel the effects of it. By educating people about death and helping them accept the inevitable while eliminating some of the perceived terror, Caitlin is changing society’s view of the one experience we will all be a part of, regardless of socioeconomic status or level of education.
My hope is that as we continue reading, writing, and sharing stories, we can not only help each other become more open and compassionate towards others but also towards ourselves. Forgiving ourselves for past sins and embracing the darkness are the only ways to really prepare ourselves to accept the light.
Happy Halloween and happy reading.