I am studying Spanish this year and as a result, I had the privilege of experiencing a taste of what “Los Días de Los Muertos” is about because the UWO Spanish Department organizes a celebration every year (or at least for the past three years that I have been studying here). Translated as the “Day of the Dead,” this day may sound like something that would be similar to Halloween in Canada, however, it is completely different.
“Los Días de Los Muertos” is a Mexican holiday where people celebrate the lives of their loved ones, and it consists of decorating tombstones and having a good time with the spirits who they believe come back to visit on this holiday.
As a culture, death is something that we see as an ending point, or a cease of existence. However, I found it beautiful that “Los Días de Los Muertos” remembers death in a way that celebrates life, instead of holding on to the loss. As someone who has attended quite a number of funerals (unfortunately), it was refreshing to see death portrayed in such a positive light and focussed on the happy memories of our dead.
The idea of the dead coming back to spend a day with us in spirit may seem strange in our culture, but when I try to remove my own biases, it is a beautiful idea to me. Instead of being haunted with the loss of my loved ones and thinking about the multiple “What If’s” of life, and if I am able to treat my memories as a celebration of life instead of loss, I feel like it would be most helpful and uplifting to me.
In North American culture, we are raised with different ways to look at death (and many other things), but if we are able to see through the social constructs, I feel like we would be a much happier group of people. At least, I feel like if I were raised celebrating “Los Días de Los Muertos,” I would have an easier time letting go of loss, and allowing the dead to be free — free as in to liberate them from our own melancholic grasps, and allow them to be celebrated instead while freeing ourselves as well.