In Mexico – where I lived for a long time – there is a very special tradition of dealing with death, which fascinated me from the beginning on. The family of the deceased arranges once a year, on the days of the dead, the „Dias de los Muertos“, a kind of memorial altar at home on which all things that the beloved person has liked during lifetime are arranged: good food, music or a certain sport. A sugar skull with the name of the deceased is lovingly placed on it. These skulls are colorful and pretty to look at and by no means frightening or scary.
People believe that the souls of the deceased make their way home during the days of the dead to spend time with their family. On the third day the soul of the deceased is accompanied with a lot of food back to the cemetery. Together they eat at the grave decorated with flowers and candles, crying, laughing and remembering. A nice, comforting ritual that I liked from the very beginning.
My father died a few months ago. Even if he was feeling very bad for a long time, his death came all of a sudden for us. We got used to his condition and were somehow taken by surprise. I became very painfully aware of how important rituals are when someone whom one has loved passes away. You stay alone with all your memories. You regret quarrels and are sad about all the unsaid. You send out obituaries to inform friends and acquaintances, and you are pleased with every comforting word and shared memory that comes up again. Still I have not deleted his number from my phone, that would be to final for me. In general we are quite helpless in dealing with death.
In view of the incomprehensibility of death, the Mexican way of dealing with it seems to me the only possible way: you have to look him in the eye, accept him and laugh with him. I would like to appear with a feast at my father’s grave: I know that he would have liked it.