Dia de los Muertos
In most of the United States, death is linked to fear and is to be discussed solemnly, if at all. Unless, of course, you are talking with your friends about who will be the first to die in the zombie apocalypse (it’s me; it’s always me).
In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a national holiday for the friends and family who have died and are on their journey toward Chicunamictlán (Land of the Dead). Starting on October 31st and ending on November 2nd, alters are made and flowers laid out; people coax their loved ones’ spirits back from the dead for a short visit by celebrating in their honor. People wear costumes, eat sweets, and play music.
Specific traditions associated with Dia de los Muertos include…
- Creating altars
- Making offerings
- Participating in festivals
- Decorating with marigolds
- Sugar skulls
- Eating tons of delicious food
- Memorializing loved ones who have passed
- Reflecting on life and death
At Lakeside-Milam, we’ve been considering this in relation to drug and alcohol addiction and gratefulness. Each year we lose friends and loved ones to the disease. It’s a constant reminder of the destruction of addiction.
Dia de los Muertos is believed to be the time when the passageway between life and death open and the spirits can come back to visit the living for 24 hours. It is a time to celebrate and time to help the dead on their journey.
Gratitude, Celebration, and Recovery
So, how does gratefulness play into this? We can be grateful to have known the person; we can be grateful for all we’ve learned; we can be grateful for the life we have. And, we can start to reconcile our feelings; maybe anger, longing, or guilt. You can pour yourself a glass of Atole, talk to your loved ones, or maybe lay out an extra place at the table in remembrance. While you may not believe the spirits will visit, you can gain a lot from recognizing their impact on your life; and reconciling with the feelings that go along with death.
Similar holidays, such as All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day, are celebrated in different countries and religions on November 1. All of these holidays are a meant for a time of prayer and to remember those who have died; whether they are saints, members of the congregation, or loved ones.
So, however you celebrate, remember the ones we’ve lost. Learn from them and grow. Because we are not guaranteed life, but we can be grateful for what we have and remember those we’ve lost.
Renewal and Hope
If you or a loved one are struggling with the disease of addiction, we strongly advise you to take the first step. By reaching out to a treatment center like Lakeside-Milam, you will have access to the highest quality treatment in the Pacific Northwest. With over 35 years and more than 100,000 clean and sober alumni, we want to encourage you that there is hope for a second chance at life. Call (800) 231-4303 to learn more.