My first altarOct 31, 2023
A few weeks ago, I sent an article titled The Spiral of Grief. I received many emails in response.
Over the next few days, many will be celebrating Samhain, Dia de los Muertos and All Souls Day, I was inspired to share one of those emails.
The writer graciously gave permission for me to share her story. I think you will enjoy it.
Grief is many things, including joyous memories,
From Rita Delgado:
I learned about Dia de los Muertos many years ago, decades actually. At the time, my now adult children were in grammar school. It was then we put together our first altar. My kids and I made all of our loved ones favorite foods. We had tamales for my grandmother and biscuits and gravy for my grandfather. We are a diverse group.
Their pictures were adorned with items we associated with them. My grandmother had a vase of roses. My grandfather had a glass of Old Grandad and a cigar. My aunt had a dancing calaca. She loved to dance. Marigold petals were sprinkled all over the altar as well as a vase of Marigolds. Incense was put in place ready to be lit later. My sons put pictures of pets with treats. The cats' pictures had strings they could chase. The dogs had a ball and treats.
I explained to them everyone's spirits would visit on November 1 and 2nd. They'd follow the fragrance of the marigold petals. We made a trail of them leading to our front door.
On November 1st, we gathered around our altar, lit the incense and candles and reminded each other of our best memories.
Their father had us laughing through our tears with memories of the funny antics of his father. The boys recalled how their grandmother indulged them with Popsicles and trips to Toys R Us. They recalled how their grandparents always had time for them. Time to listen. Time to play legos.And I recalled my grandparents unconditional love. I thanked them and my inlaws for teaching me how to parent.
Afterwards, we ate the food we prepared. We toasted our loved ones with a variety of Mexican and English spirits and for the boys, soda. It was, and is, a wonderful family experience that has made us closer. We have all learned that the pain we feel, while constantly present, is accompanied with joy. The joy we experienced while our family and friends were in this physical world is never lost.
Now, I keep my altar up all year. Throughout the year, I talk to them and tell them what is happening. Joyful things, tough times, everyday living are equally shared. It's a bit crazy, I know, but I'm old now. That gives me license to be a bit eccentric.