Remembering our loved ones

Published: 01 November, 2016
Remembering our loved ones

There are so many ways to hold our memories of friends and loves ones but the problem is about fitting time into our lives to grieve and remember in the way we would like to.

Dia de Muertos – The Mexican Day of the Dead

A few years ago my manager and I attended a Dying Matters Event ‘Celebrating Mexican Day of the Dead’ in London.  Family and friends were very amused by the name of the event, which again provoked conversation and amusement.

About Dia de Muertos


This is a day celebrated through much of Latin America in early November.  Far from being a topic of fear, death is treated as a natural part of the life cycle and joyfully celebrated, with street parties or parades.

Families mark the holiday by creating an altar within their homes to honour relatives who have passed away. The altars are highly decorated with candles, photographs and brightly coloured marigolds.

A mixture of the departed loved one’s favourite foods, beverages, clothes and toys act as symbolic offerings, along with figures of skulls or skeletons.

Visitors to Mexico will see colourful cemeteries and on the 2nd November families tend to relatives graves, surrounding them with candles and fragranced flowers.  Offerings are left here too. Burial grounds see people sitting late into the night laughing and telling stories about ancestors and departed relatives.  Musicians are sometimes hired to stroll through the cemeteries, playing favourite songs of the departed.

Dia de Muertos isn’t just about grief - The Day of the Dead celebrates the cycle of life and helps family and friend to remember their loved ones and ancestors with positive emotions.


We all find our own individual ways to remember friends and loved ones in our times of grief and sadness.  However, I did take away from the event some lovely ideas which I have tried to adopt.

  • An area of memories – through photos and special significant items, i.e. ornaments, jewellery
  • Time – this is such a precious commodity and we so rarely apply it to sit and reminisce, talk and enjoy / share stories with tears and laughter with wider family and friends
  • Recognise a date of significance by raising a glass or celebrating with their favourite cake in their memory


Whilst this can be difficult with our everyday living - the idea of identifying a date and time to spend with family and friends, we are surrounded by; in order to remember and share stories of loved ones who are no longer here becomes special time.  It’s great to share with the younger generations who gain a different flavour of the person they knew and remember them with laughter and smiles.

Condolence cards

Do you send condolence cards when someone dies?  In my experience I have welcomed the effort, kindness and words of comfort that are included with the card or letter.  I have found it interesting to discover the impact of the special person in my life on someone else’s and the joy of finding out more about their path of friendship.


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Written by: Tracey Parkinson

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