Day of the Dead a time for celebration, remembering lost loved ones

Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 8:59 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 28, 2022 at 9:06 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - It is often said everyone has a different view of death. Considering a multitude of ethnic backgrounds, it is no surprise many cultures celebrate those lost in death. Originating in Mexico, Dia De Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a celebration to remember family and friends who have passed.

Michelle Saenz, a mental health clinician at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, says it is good to remember those loved ones, as eerie as the day may sound. The holiday is a time of remembrance and to reunite the living with the people they have lost.  

“Dia de los Muertos is not a Mexican Halloween,” Michelle explains.            

As a licensed therapist, she understands that the time around Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos comes with a lot of mixed signals. Small children may not understand why there are parties and parades to celebrate the dead with many families returning to cemeteries to remember and grieve.

Considering most children think of Halloween as a spooky time to dress up and ask for candy, is it too soon to talk to them about death?            

“I think the sooner you talk to them, the easier it is for them to cope later on in life when someone they know personally passes away,” Michelle says. “So if a bug dies, you talk to them about how life, how their life, is no longer here and when you bury them they don’t come back. You have to talk to them with age appropriate language. You have to be direct and you have to make sure that it is an ongoing conversation.”

Michelle says the pandemic changed a lot about death, including the grieving process. Because of social distancing restrictions, many funerals were postponed or cancelled altogether.

Michelle stated the break in the traditional grieving process has affected the mental health and recovery of many who lost loved ones during that period.   

“And because of that,” she explains, “I think that there needs to be more discussion on how to grieve and mental health in general because there is not enough conversation on it and it needs to be talked about and how people need to speak on how important it is to go to therapy and to find a support system because COVID has left a lot of heartache.”