There are so many ways that we choose to memorialize those we know—and those we do not. I think of the interesting options of how we choose to honor sports figures, for instance. Those who are part of the surfing and water sport community often partake in a “paddle out.” Surfers or rowers will gather together in a circle, often dedicating flowers and moments of silence to those they have lost. When Kobe Bryant, the great Los Angeles Laker, died earlier this year, there were limitless memorials that emerged, from gatherings at the Staples Center (where he played) to purple and gold displays on buildings all around America—including the New York Stock Exchange, just a few blocks from where I lived at the time.
I was struck today when I noticed on my Facebook feed a posting by a fellow I scarcely know. From what I gathered, he was mourning a young ice hockey player who’d passed. His memorial? Leaving a hockey stick on the porch overnight, with the light on. This reminded me of a similar tribute a couple of years ago. The Humboldt Bronco’s team suffered an unbearable loss of more than a dozen players and coaches involved in a bus crash for their junior hockey team. I think it is fair to say that few countries love hockey as much as our brothers and sisters to the north. And, so, all about the country, people left hockey sticks out in tribute with the social media hashtag #PutYourSticksOut
Loss is awful, but when we can mark those losses and make meaning, it makes the pain just a little lighter.