By coincidence while Jane was helping to launch the Dying Matters BEING THERE campaign in London last month (2nd November 2014) our older son Joe was in Mexico visiting Hollie, one of Josh’s best friends. The Dying Matters event was the focus of their annual Day of the Dead celebrations and guess what, Joe and Hollie were remembering Josh at the real deal in Oaxaca, birthplace of Las Dias de Muertos. Here is his account of their day …
We experienced Dias de Muertos here in Mexico in Oaxaca City. Each year Mexicans celebrate the dead leading up to 2nd November (Dias de Muertos) by creating colourful altars for their loved ones that have passed, dressing up in death related costumes and face paints, drinking and eating and holding street parties. Within Mexican tradition, the 2nd of November is kept for the dead to return to this world and share in the offerings given to them.
Having lost a brother and a best friend, Hollie and I wanted to honour our Josh this past weekend and ensure that his presence and soul was celebrated. We created a colourful mobile made of traditional Mexican tin, that carried pictures of Josh on star shaped card and little skeleton figurines and a sacred tin shaped heart. We visited a candle lit vigil for the dead in a cemetery just outside of Oaxaca Centro. The scene was magical. Night had fallen but the cemetery was lit up with candles, bright marigold flowers and the sound of music from people playing instruments and singing beside the graves of their lost ones.
We found a suitable tree that Josh could now call his own and hung his mobile to a branch. We scattered Josh’s ashes at the base of the tree and shared a small bottle of tequilla with Josh whilst sitting with him.
Although in the UK, it is not un-common to see relatives and friends visit a cemetery and to hold time with a lost loved one, this experience felt very different. A more shared experience and less private, where visitors walked in between the dead and were invited to learn more about them. The dead felt more alive due to the decoration of their graves and how families were sitting, eating, drinking or even singing or having a smoke with them.
We shared our love of Joshua with a mother and a wonderful young child who became instantly interested in Joshua’s memorial mobile. He asked questions about who Joshua was to us and it was nice for us to introduce him to Joshua. He was so taken with the mobile that Hollie simply had to give him the sacred tin heart for keeps! He was chuffed to bits.
Here in Mexico, people’s relationship with death seems very honest and open. The dead are not forgotten. They are celebrated and seen as still part of this world.
Josh’s mobile still hangs in the cemetery and now he has two trees in this world he can call his own.
to view more photos from Joe’s trip to Mexico click here
Dying Matters : http://www.dyingmatters.org/