Today is a beautiful annual Mexican tradition/ritual, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) where friends and families gather to honor and remember their loved ones that have passed. Today also happens to be a few days short of the 7 month anniversary of my dad’s passing AND a few days short of being 32 weeks into my pregnancy.
The Day of the Dead isn’t a holiday that I was brought up with, but instead a holiday that I grew to love in the last 16 years that I’ve spent living in San Francisco, with its rich Hispanic and Mexican culture. Here in SF, there is an annual cumparsa or procession that happens after the sun sets to a park filled with altars and offerings to loved ones and ancestors that have passed. It’s a beautiful and vibrant celebration. Checkout wikipedia for their history of the Day of the Dead, thought to have originated from the Aztecs!
When we honor our loved ones that have passed, we are in fact honoring the circle of life. To not fear death, to learn the lessons from our ancestors, to bask in the love of the loved ones that have passed and to enjoy every moment of our brief life. This dance of the circle of life with all of its twists and turns, its frenzy and cadence is beautiful if you let it be.
And from death comes life…
If you’re keen on timing, you read that second sentence correctly, the timing of my pregnancy is magically timed to the passing of my dad. And if I may be so transparent with you, this pregnancy was not planned. I had no idea it could even happen. But the day after my dad passed, I was cleaning up his room and I felt a little spark inside of me. It was the most uncanny feeling, and that spark in me turned out to indeed be a flicker of life. I can’t help but think that my dad, his spirit barely detached from his body, made a deal with the Universe to gift me this miracle. This miracle that I didn’t even know that I wanted but now so eagerly await.
So, later today, as I prepare to celebrate death and life, I will light a candle for the loved ones that I have lost and I will light a candle for the loved ones yet to come. I will dance in the circle of life and let it take me where it wants to flow.
Rituals for Celebrating Death to Celebrate Life
It’s not too late to celebrate death to celebrate life by honoring your loved ones that have passed, here are a few things you can do today
- Buy some orange marigolds, they are said to attract the attention of wandering souls
- Visit your loved one’s grave, clean it of debris and offer a favorite food or drink
- Make a small alter at home to honor your loved one with photos, flowers, candles and charms
- Decorate a sugar skull and eat sweets to learn that life is brief
- Light a candle and say a prayer for your loved ones
- Take part in the procession if your city/town has one
In all of this, really feel deep down in your heart the love of that loved one that has passed. Their love stays with you long after they have left this earth. Take comfort that they are still here for you, when ever you need, through just a simple prayer, a simple request for help, a simple thought to let them know you still remember and love them too. You may feel a warm brush on your shoulder, or a welling in your heart, they are still here with you.