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David Mills
By David Mills on October 31, 2019

What Communities Can Learn from Dia de los Muertos

And What We’re Launching Today

You might remember Disney’s 2017 movie COCO that was a creative take on Day of the Dead. Dia de los Muertos is the traditional Mexican holiday that occurs October 31st through November 2nd. If you’re not in a community with a strong tradition of Dia De Los Muertos, don’t think that it’s only celebrated in Mexico. There are celebrations in American cities too, like San Francisco, San Antonio, Ft. Lauderdale, San Diego and Albuquerque. With its roots in the Aztec traditions of Mexico, this day is a time when families remember and honor their deceased loved ones. 

Whether it fits with your personal or community’s religious leanings, there is something to be said for moving the end of life out of the shadows and, like those south of the border, rather than fearing death, having a culture that celebrates the lives of our honored dead.

Why the Best Funeral Homes Don't Win in Most Cases

Some of El Dios De Los Muertos images can be almost shocking to reserved Americans

The visual images can be almost shocking to Americans who are used to keeping the process of death and dying hidden away, but there is some real wisdom in embracing this part of life and especially to remember with love and joy those that we’ve lost.

We know that it’s not healthy for our culture to hide the death and dying process away and allow it to carry a stigma of silence. That kind of attitude pushes the community-oriented services of local funeral homes out of sight too, when it instead could be cultivating healing rituals.  Stigma can take a personal toll on funeral home staff, and keep families and communities from truly healing following a loss.

Embracing the reality that death is a part of living, and something that every person will experience, can bring real benefits to both individuals and communities. That kind of embrace is found in this annual celebration, and is an important lesson for us all.

The well-known author on this topic, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross says it this way: ”It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth—and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.” 

The reality of how short life really is should always be with us like the masks on this holiday. And if you look at the art that represents Dia de los Muertos, you will see that reality is superimposed on the faces of children and families alike—often in very beautiful depictions.

So on this Dia De Los Muertos, at Story Collaborative, we’re taking a moment to say thank you to local funeral home directors, owners and staff who work every day to make the seasons of grief easier, and to connect those in need to rituals of healing and community support.

New Support Program for Funeral Homes 

We’re launching our new support program for funeral homes today too, found at Hartway. This is a resource that includes free resources, as well as access to webinars and articles. It also offers service programs that are designed to support the work of funeral homes in connecting with and serving their communities. You can download and share a social graphic in your own Facebook or Instagram feed to express your thanks along to those in your community.

->Download a social graphic that you can use to say thank you in your community

Dios De Los Muertos should also be a day to say thank you to those who serve us at the end of life

To the communities that we serve, we’d like to encourage you to take a moment and say thank you for the work of those who support us during the end of life. They work with compassion and professionalism at some of the most difficult times of our lives. We’ve all been helped in those moments with family and friends, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for doing this challenging work. As one funeral director that we know says, “you have to be called to do this kind of work.” To funeral home staff, hospice workers, end of life healthcare specialists and grief counselors - Thank You!


Why the Best Funeral Homes Don't Win in Most Cases


Published by David Mills October 31, 2019
David Mills