Day of the Dead: A Time to Connect

October 27, 2014

Shortly after Mom died, I wrote a poem that included these lines:

“I am not ready

to call you my Ancestor,

nor celebrate you

on the Day of the Dead.

Closer than that,

I want you near me.

Closer than that,

my Mom – my friend. “

 

I simply wasn’t ready to pray traditional Catholic prayers for her on All Souls’ Day  (Nov 1st) , nor put her photo on a Dia De Los Muertos altar.

Dia De Los Muertos, is a traditional Mexican celebration that honors the dead.  Families make altars upon which they place special foods, candles and photographs of their loved ones.  Some believe that the spirit of the dead visit their families on October 31 and leave on November 2nd.

 

The poem goes on:

“I know you are bigger

then how I knew you.

I know you are more

then this lifetime we shared…”

 

I knew she was no longer here in her body, but I didn’t know where she was nor how to relate to her.

Gradually, I began to create a new relationship with her.  I told stories and talked about her.  Even more importantly, I talked to her.  And, as I did, I had a growing sense of her presence in my daily life.

 

Half a year after Mom’s death, I made an Ancestor altar on a bookshelf in my living room.  Her photo is on it, along with pictures of other dead family members, friends and role models.  Most mornings I light a white candle to greet and thank them.  Sometimes I ask for help.

Today I actually look forward to honoring her on the Day of the Dead with play, humor and sugar skulls.

 

One of the tasks of mourning is to find a lasting connection with your person who has passed.  (JW Worden). It’s not about letting go, nor cutting off the bond.  It’s about figuring out what works for you and your loved one to keep the connection alive.  And, like any relationship, it’s an evolving process.

 

I encourage you to start now, if you haven’t already.  It’s as simple as saying hello, watching for a visit in your dreams or asking for a sign of their presence in your life.

Even if you didn’t grow up with a family celebration on the Day of the Dead or pray somber prayers on All Souls’ Day, you can still find ways to celebrate them this time of year.

It’s an opportunity for you to remember, feel, laugh, cry.

You can cook their favorite foods. Light candles. Get a fresh bouquet  of flowers.  Tell a story about them to your friends, children, grandchildren.

 

It will help you.  It will help them.

 

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