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Day of the Dead: Finding ways to connect with our loved one after they die

people in disguise during the Day of the Dead parade

​On November 1st and 2nd every year, people of Mexican heritage celebrate Dia de los Muertos, translating to Day of the Dead. These two days are full of bright colors, parades, parties, face paint, and happiness to honor and remember loved ones who have died.  It is traditional for there to be an ofrenda, or altar, complete with pictures of their loved ones, their loved one’s favorite foods, water, candles, and marigold flowers. These altars welcome the spirits of their loved ones back to the living for those two days.  This time of celebration has been most recently depicted in the Disney’s 2017 movie, Coco.

Rooted in Aztec culture, this day is dedicated to honoring loved ones, who have gone to the land of the dead, has been around for centuries.  Mourning the dead was considered disrespectful in the context of death being a natural part of life.  The Aztec, Toltec, and other pre-Hispanic cultures wanted to continue to keep the dead alive in spirit and part of the community, which developed into what is now known as Dia de los Muertos.  

With the Day of the Dead being a prominent part of Mexican culture, it is baffling to think about how much the dead are removed from our lives and forgotten in Western culture. Yes, there are monuments to influential Presidents and parks and schools named after important figures in the community, but what about everyone else? In Western society, encouragement to keep moving and move on results in the lost opportunity to create lasting and continuing relationships with loved ones after they are no longer physically living with us.  

Honoring our loved ones can be done across any culture.  The beauty of our own thoughts and beliefs is that we can create our own rituals and create our own memorials to help continue to honor our loved ones.  This can be done in many ways.  You can make your own ofrenda, either around November or all year. You can have a designated shelf or space in your house to have pictures of your loved one with special items  like a baseball glove or dance shoes.  You can also choose to journal to your loved one as if they were right next to you talking where you share with them about your day or a certain situation that’s going on in your life.  You can hold a walk or run in their memory to raise money for a special cause or scholarship fund.  You can do a bubble release on their birthday or continue to bake them a cake for their big day.  There are so many ways in which we can keep our loved ones alive and connected with us after death.  

If you want to talk more about your loved one, your grief feelings after a loss, or how you may want to connect with loved ones already in the land of the dead, call us at Curis Functional Health and we can offer you the space to  help you remember your loved ones. 

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