As an estate planning attorney, I talk a lot about death, dying and illness. I love the work I do because I think it’s important and I know a good estate plan makes things so much easier for our loved ones during an illness and certainly after a death. It provides some peace of mind during a truly emotional and challenging time. For more information about estate planning, click here.
That said, it is sad and difficult sometimes. I am frequently confronted with mortality and know we often have no idea when a death will occur. Which is part of the reason I love Dia De Los Muertos – instead of focusing on grief, mourning and the loss of our loved ones (which is, of course, important too) — it celebrates their lives.
How did I come to learn about Dia De Los Muertos?
I love fall and Halloween. One October, several years ago, I decided to try something new. My boys and I celebrated Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos by making sugar skulls, pictured here. I know – we won’t be winning any icing decorating contests. And you can probably tell from the picture that this activity was more about celebrating icing and sugar then about the departed. But as part of learning about how to make sugar skulls, I learned about Dia De Los Muertos and fell in love with this beautiful tradition.
Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead is a celebration, primarily originating in and celebrated in Mexico, of deceased loved ones. The celebration is typically on November 1 (All Saints Day) and November 2 (All Soul’s Day) and in some locales is also celebrated on Halloween. It is also a tradition inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. I think it’s beautiful because it is a celebration – an opportunity to celebrate the lives of and remember joyful times with those who are no longer with us.
Traditions include exchanging calavera (sugar skulls), home altars adorned with Aztec marigolds, photos and memorabilia from dead loved ones, and ofrendas (offerings) with the dead’s favorite foods and drinks. Tamales, sweet breads and tequila are common. Some believe that the spirits of the dead actually come visit on Dia De Los Muertos to celebrate with their loved ones. For more information about Dia De Los Muertos, click here.
For me, this reminder to remember the beautiful times with those who are no longer with us, creates peace of mind.
This year I will be celebrating with a hot bowl of ham and beans, some cornbread crisped to the perfect golden brown in the iron skillet, ice-tea served in a canning jar and a homemade snickerdoodle for dessert. I’m also frying some bacon. Hopefully my grandparents and my beloved rescue Aussie Jack, will be enticed to stop by.
We are all mortal. Contact The Estate Planner LLC in our St. Louis office at 314-303-3218 for assistance with estate planning needs in Missouri.
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