The Day of the Dead

Brand new in Mexico, we’ve wondered how to take in the authentic Day of the Dead celebrations this weekend.

I asked the mom in another consulate family. She didn’t really know. Tijuana, she explained, is more like the US than other parts of Mexico, where one might enjoy a more authentic experience.

Then again, what is authentic?

I first participated in a Day of the Dead celebration four years ago, about six weeks after my mother had died unexpectedly. Our church, First Unitarian of Louisville, asked people to bring pictures of their departed loved ones for the service that Sunday. I did so. I sat with my kids in the sanctuary and, when Lydia and Nora Grossman began to sing a beautiful folk tune in honor of the departed, I started crying so desperately I felt I could not control the muscles in my face. I rushed out of the room and phoned Mark to come stay with the kids so I could leave. Not long afterward, Zoe left the sanctuary, also sobbing.

Our sense of loss was too fresh to celebrate communally.

Now, four years later, it still seems too soon in some ways. And yet I’m also encouraged by a ritual that allows me to acknowledge reality, honor memory, and learn, if only gradually, how to join in the communal celebration of death and life.

Love you, Mom.


3 thoughts on “The Day of the Dead

  1. Moving post, Fran. Interestingly, the Catholic Church now does a “Mass of Remembrance” in connection with All Soul’s Day. Perhaps they have been doing this for some time but I haven’t been going to Mass much until this last year. Since Dad passed away in February, my siblings and I take turns staying weekends with Mom (so I take her to Mass on my weekend). The Mass of Remembrance is tomorrow; they will commemorate those parishioners who have passed away this year (including Dad). I can surely relate to your experience.


  2. Patty, I’ll be thinking of you. It’s so hard at first. I love that you and your siblings are able share both the work and the satisfaction of caring for your mom and sharing her rituals 😉


  3. it will be 2 years for my Mom , on the 20th, but everything still feels so fresh and new. There is still so much pain and heartache , She was not just my mother , she was my best friend…too soon for me Im afraid


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