Remembering Those That Have Died

 Today’s my sister’s birthday. She has been dead for almost 15 years. But because of the date, I am thinking about her and what she meant in my life.

Indeed, it is on certain days — holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, and the day they died –that we especially think of deceased family members and others who have had a deep impact upon our lives, for good or ill.

If we are still grieving, such dates will cause us pain.

But if we can focus on and honor all the good things that they gave us, taught us, of how they shaped the people we are today, that can ease our sorrow.  A part of them still lives within us and is passed down to our children. We are their living legacy. We stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before. And we honor them best by passing the gift they have given us to the next generation.

But what if you still have anger or resentment?

Such dates will be a reminder to work on forgiveness for yourself as well as for them, and to figure out how you can remember what happened without being triggered. What did you or can you yet learn from that person whether they intended to teach it to you or not? There is, in my opinion, always something to learn from every relationship and experience. When you find the blessing, it dissipates or transmutes the stuck ugly energy. So how can you look at things so that it doesn’t hurt as much? What do you need to do or let go of in order to stop kicking the dirt over their grave?
Somewhere I heard that there is an American Indian belief that there are three kinds of teachers:

The first teacher is someone who provides good, sound information and an example worthy of following.

These are the great religious figures, the heroes, those of great moral fiber, courage, wisdom and personal integrity that call forth your admiration and respect. If you are very lucky, this group may include your parents or other family members and mentors. In striving to be like them you are following a noble path. The memory of who they were and what they stood for can be a trusty guide to follow on how to live your own life.

The downside with having the positive teacher is that you may too blindly follow their path, the decisions they made in their own lives, their opinions of what is right and what you should do without going inside to collaborate that in consultation with your own internal guidance system.  

The life they choose may have suited them perfectly. The decisions they made may have been exemplary at their time and place. But such may not exactly fit or be right for who you are, your soul’s path, or the particular situation or circumstance you face today. Better than just copying their fine example, take the time for introspection to find that internal sense of rightness. 

That being said, it is still vitally important to have positive role models and to search them out if they are not apparent in your life.

The second kind of teacher is someone that teaches you how to be by providing an example of how not to be.

These teachers really hurt but may be an enormous help to you growing into an extraordinary person. For example, you may make an effort to be kinder because they were not. You may strive to be a better parent or spouse because they were not. You may pause to think before you speak instead of lashing out in anger precisely they did not. Such people are absolutely wonderful, effective teachers because in seeing so blatantly the natural consequences of their bad behavior, you can make the effort to learn from their mistakes and act differently. They are the clear warning sign that says “don’t go here.”

The downside to those that teach by negative example is that their students may be so locked into hurt and rage that they never see the positive learning.

Until someone is willing to let go of the pain long enough to consider that just maybe something good can be learned from this person, they will not find the blessing and move on to put it into place.

The third kind of teacher is one that provides both good and bad, positive and negative examples of how to be, how to live, and how to treat others.

In being presented with no clear direction either to follow or to reject, this type of teacher, which is also called the Coyote or Trickster, is an opportunity to dig deep inside of yourself for answers and guidance. The only way to surmount the confusion they present is to learn to think for yourself, to search for and independently evaluate various options or directions, to pick through the many opposing traits they exemplify. For example, I like this about them, and want to adapt it into my life, but I don’t like that and choose something else instead. As a result, you may learn more and end up wiser and even better off than if you had just blindly followed the good teacher without any reflection, or just rebelled against everything the “bad” teacher was and stood for.

The downside with this type of teacher is that they may generate a ‘love/hate’ response or just such confusion that the ‘student’ gives up and quits before ever gaining what was there to learn.

So in remembering those who have passed:
  • What did you or can you yet learn from them?
  • What are the lessons, the examples that they provided?
  • How can such knowledge bless you and others?
  • What are the positive aspects that you would like to follow?
  • And what are the positive opposites of their negative example that you would like to express?
In doing so, these people did not live in vain, but are helping not just you, but through you, those after you. Then you

Become the shoulders for others to stand upon.


Copyright by Roxanne Louise. However, this article may be shared in free online sources only if this copyright notice and link to and  are included with the content.