Día de los Muertos

In the past couple of years our family has lost my grandma and Chris’s grandfather. The kids ask about them all the time, and we love when they do!  We recall how Grandma always sent them holiday and birthday cards. We remember Boompa’s devotion to his family’s health and happiness. They were two spectacular people who never met, but we like to think they are buddies in heaven now.

Now that Halloween is over, we spent today talking about another popular holiday, Día de los Muertos. It is a Mexican holiday when families gather to pray for and remember their loved ones who have passed away. I remember learning about it in Spanish class – it was the first time a conversation of death wasn’t shrouded in sadness and mystery. I loved thinking about how the spirits came back to visit their earthly family, and how happy they must have been to see all the preparation that went into their “welcome home” party. It seemed so much more comforting than the grim finality of death we are taught in typical American culture.

So tonight to honor Grandma and Boompa we made a simple Día de los Muertos altar with candles, homemade cards and trinkets. I offered my grandmother’s baby book and rosary in her memory, and for Boompa we included Polish kielbasa.

We asked Evie to lead the family in a prayer, after which Vivian serenaded us with her latest favorite song “Jesus Loves Me.” Aside from Mack shouting an occasional “Poop!” it was a solemn moment that we will all remember. During dinner, Chris told the kids about the time when his dog ran away and Boompa found it. Evie asked me all about my grandma’s parents (“What were their names?” “How did they die?” “Did you know them?“).

I want my kids to know that they can talk about death anytime. It is a scary and overwhelming topic for adults, so little brains might need extra time processing what it means. I want them to know that we can continue loving and missing people long after death. Days like today remind us that love is eternal, even though our time on this beautiful planet is not.


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