On November 1, Latin-American communities gather to honor all who have died by celebrating each person’s individual tastes, humor, and humanity. On Day of the Dead, each grave is cleaned and adorned with the deceased person’s favorite foods and colors, and the dead are presented with gifts from the living. Many believe that on The Day of the Dead and on All Souls’ Day — which takes place on Nov. 2 — the dead can contact the living. Similar ceremonies go on in Europe, Asia, and Africa as well.
Here are 3 ways to celebrate the holiday weekend by honoring your loved ones who have passed on:
1. Gather for a reflection ceremony.
One way to bring someone back into your mind and heart is to gather with other family members or friends who cared about your loved one. Reflection ceremonies don’t need to be somber, or focus on the sadness. How about enjoying something together that the departed would have liked? Try having dinner at their favorite restaurant — or catching a ball game, cheering on their favorite team… the possibilities are as multifaceted as are your memories. If you can’t get together, call or email mutual friends and relative to trade reminiscences.
2. Plant a living thing, and watch it grow.
If you plant a tree or other plant in honor of your loved one you can transform your grief into a growing gift to the Earth — and you will always have a special spot to go to when thoughts of that special person weigh heavily on your mind, or when you miss their companionship. Who wouldn’t want to be honored in such a meaningful way?
3. Create an altar.
Everyone in your household can honor immediate family or other relatives by creating a family altar. Family photos, surrounded by the deceased’s favorite colors and small keepsakes, are a simple way of bringing them to mind. Talk to the person when you are at the altar — either out loud, or silently in your heart. When someone passes away, the relationship doesn’t end. It only changes.
The key to celebrating a life lost is seeing grief as a gift. Days of remembrance and ceremonies surrounding loss help us to deeply acknowledge the importance of human connections in our lives.
How do you remember your loved one? How do you communicate with them?