Did you ever see a little kid, usually a toddler, pick up a play phone (I guess those are now toy cellphones and yak away? Cute, right? Or is it? Do our toddler selves know something our adult selves don’t want to admit?
In Japan, Itaru Sasaki created a phone booth that has now become the go to place to talk to one’s dead relatives.
Last year in 2021, I finally found a Valentine mailbox on sale at Joanns. Mine is slightly different with a white trim but any mailbox will do.
I used it to put letters to my late aunt and cards for my late family members. You write like you would if they were alive or you buy a greeting card and put it in the box. You can also write a letter or buy a card and mail it to yourself but it’s addressed to your late relative or friend C/O yourself.
Think about all the stories you’ve ever read about sticking a note into a grave or a rock wall or a cave. In many countries in Asia, a drink is poured onto the ground so the dead can partake. It’s very important in many cultures to honor the dead – yeah, I was an anthropology major and did anthropological fieldwork but seriously “ancestor worship” as a term is just plain insulting. Ask any medium or spiritualist. I highly recommend Craig Hamilton-Parker’s YouTube channel and books and films. I also cannot say enough good things about Joshua P. Warren ,who isn’t a medium, but he works with them. Josh also builds devices to talk to the “other side”. but a simple mailbox is all you need.
I did not buy a flower for Julius Caesar’s grave in the Roman forum but I did honor the grave. At least in May 2003, people were STILL bringing gifts to the dead Roman emperor who on the Ides of March was stabbed to death by his closet associates and senators. There’s a wonderful blog post so you can visit virtually. The day I was there the grave was COVERED with gifts. Even after 2,000 years people still want to honor CAESAR! But are they also trying to talk to him?
I could keep adding examples of how people try to “honor” the dead but in reality, what they REALLY are doing is giving gifts to the dead and chatting with them. You see it all the time in cemetaries. But if your loved one is buried at sea, or cremated and the ashes were spread, or the grave is far far away or forgotten entirely, use a mailbox! Be creative. The “other side” is just a dimension. Most people who study thanatology will tell you that the dead can come and go at will. Most have no desire to come here but a lot do. If you really miss someone, don’t grieve, write out what you want to say, mail it, light a candle and sit at the table and chat over a meal – yes, that’s why a plate was always set aside for the a dead relative. I’m linking to an article about Poland but this custom shows up around the world.
And don’t forget the hungry ghosts or relatives that are missing a home cooking and a stiff drink!
Let me know in the comments if you post a letter and if you get a reply. Sometimes the reply will simply be peace of mind or the smell of a faint perfume or cigar!