Day of the Dead 2020

Candle against black background

Though the particular customs and scale of Day of the Dead celebrations continue to evolve, the heart of the holiday has remained the same over thousands of years. It’s an occasion for remembering and celebrating those who have passed on from this world, while at the same time portraying death in a more positive light, as a natural part of the human

Today I join millions in remembering and celebrating those I love who have passed on from this world.

Collage for Day of the Dead

And I offer Nora McInerny‘s TED talk.

We don’t “move on” from grief.
We move forward with it.

Watch the 4-minute version, here.

Watch the 15-minute version, here.

This entry was posted in Appreciating Deeply, Feeling Clearly, Mortality and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Day of the Dead 2020

  1. Perhaps cultures set aside days to mourn their beloved dead as a way to contain the grief so that it is less likely to engulf their possibilities for survival in the future. Some people are physiologically less able to turn their attention from the past so they can engage successfully with the ongoing present. A person’s level of left-brain dominance is involved. An outstanding example is Queen Victoria, who drew her nation into her enduring grief over the loss of her consort Prince Albert. Multiple traumas within a short time frame, such as McInerney’s, would take longer to heal.

    If people realized that a physiological range of degrees of grief-recovery characterize humans, they might find some comfort (or not) in knowing where along that scale they stand in their personal experience of grief. It helped me to learn that it takes about two years for younger people to recover from a major loss, such as the death of a spouse or of a child. Compare that psychological statistic with the Biblical injunction, which shapes some Jewish rites, to grieve for only a few days. How impossible that notion seemed to me when I was grieving! Yet, the idea that I was not morally obligated to grieve endlessly was helpful.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – The Day of the Dead seems to me to be an effort to ritualize and acknowledge the ongoing presence in our lives of those who have died. As I understand it, it is a celebration, not a lamentation. I expect it takes people different amounts of time to get there, if ever.

      As for traditional Jewish rituals, they sit shiva for a set period (7 days?). But they also conduct a graveside ceremony after 1 year, to mark the transition back to “normal” life. I, too, think that these various rituals (in which I would include a memorial Mass) give us some structure that can be helpful.

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    I would argue that grief over a major loss takes at least three years. (I wrote two books about grief –one about my son’s death, one about my father’s, but I’m not going to write one about Joan’s death. I’m just living it.) I agree with McInerny — you don’t get over your loss, you don’t move on, you move forward, taking your loss with you. I will never get over 60 years with Joan. As McInerny says, it has made me what I am. I hope it makes me loveable in some way; I hope someone will love me… again… before I die and become THEIR loss. But I know I will not fall in love with someone and thereby set Joan aside.
    Jim T

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