Many people have heard of The Day of the Dead, but did you know it’s actually three days long?
The first day is October 31, which is known as Halloween in more recent cultures.
The second day is November 1, known as el Dia de los innocentes, which translates to the day of the children. It’s also known as All Saints Day.
The third and final day is November 2, and is known as All Souls Day. It’s also the most popular of the three days because it’s the most traditionally celebrated Day of the Dead.
Many people believe the dead return to their earthly homes for these three days, partly because the veil that separates our physical world from eternity is thin during this time of year. People light candles and even make beautifully intricate sugar skulls—often with their departed’s name on it—to guide and welcome their loved ones home.
Regardless of your beliefs, these upcoming days are an opportunity for you to shift from Mindful Grieving to Celebrating. Rejoice and revere the lives of your departed loved ones—ancestors, family, friends, and beloved pets.
So why do we celebrate the Day of the Dead?
Dia de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead—is a Mexican holiday that draws on indigenous and European traditions. It’s not a day of mourning so much as a day of celebration. The reasoning behind the celebration is, we assume the people that have passed on wouldn’t want our lives to be filled with sadness, unhappiness, and dark grief.
Personally, I think that my family that has gone before me would be full of joy at seeing me live a radiant life—and that’s what this holiday is all about.
These three days are a special time to honor the deceased by enjoying what they enjoyed in life—favorite foods, activities, songs…you name it!
What can you do to honor your departed?
First, know that there is no time limit on grief. There’s no minimum, and there’s no maximum. It could have been a few short days, or a great many years. Either way, this is the perfect time to give yourself permission to immerse yourself in this beautiful tradition.
There’s an infinite amount of ways you can partake in The Days of the Dead. Here are a few to get you started:
- Create an art piece around your loved one.
- Share photos either in person or on social media, and tell the story of what’s happening in the photos.
- Repurpose their clothes for things like quilts or pillow cases. It’s beautiful that we can derive comfort from the items that gave comfort to our loved ones!
- Make a special trip to their final resting place. Bring candles, flowers, or anything that they liked in life. You can also set up a special place in your home with pictures, trinkets, and momentos.
- Throw a party with their favorite food and drink, and invite everyone to join you in a toast to the great memories you share.
Most importantly, celebrate and remember without apology.
I know it’s hard when you feel like those around you are ready for you to ‘move on’, but you are the one who is in charge of your emotions. You are allowed to feel how you feel, you are not responsible for how others feel about your grieving process, and it’s okay to display your emotions. Even though it’s the season for masks, you are not required to mask your emotions for the comfort of others.
And remember, those emotions live in your body. Don’t forget to check in with yourself during these three days—mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,
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