2010–2023 Writings
by Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Contemplating Death, Celebrating Life

Let’s celebrate the lives of our dearly beloved friends, relatives and pets who have passed away.

In Latin America, it’s a sacred time of year to honor them through our memories, stories, prayers and meditations.

Like a lot of kids, I was freaked out by the concepts of death and the afterlife when I initially began to understand them. I remember my grandpa saying he believed that after we die, that’s it. No heaven, no hell. Just black nothingness. Worm food. That sure wasn’t comforting to my already delicate young mind.

Throughout my childhood, Halloween was a fun day that was all about dressing up, trick-or-treating, watching Charlie Brown and Garfield cartoon specials on TV and eating too much candy—not so much about reflecting on death. In my roaring 20s, it was a fun day that was all about dressing up, going to wild costume parties and getting wasted. The only deaths contemplated around Halloween were the ones in bloody horror flicks.

Perhaps this is why I’ve come to appreciate Latin America’s cultural rituals and customs around death. It is not viewed as scary or taboo but rather a natural passage at the end of life.

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