A week before Christmas, I lost a dear friend. She was 89 years old and quite a character. We met 10 years earlier on a photography web site and hit it off immediately. She was creative and a delight to spend time with. Her life experiences were varied and we often launched into metaphysical discussions. I had planned to be present as she was crossing over. That didn’t work out. Three weeks later I was in a funk. There were no funeral services and I felt at loose ends with no sense of closure. Then I went to see the animated movie Coco. It is based in the Mexican tradition of celebrating the Day of the Dead. Altars are set up with photographs of the deceased, plus food and objects related to their lives.
I could hardly contain my grief as the movie ended. The great grandma in the picture (spoiler- who dies at the end) was a reminder of my friend. I came home and, after several long walks, came up with a way to process my grief. I bought a notebook and dedicated it to friends and family who have shed the earthly bonds and transitioned to the next world. I call it my Dia de Muertos book. I searched for photos of friends who have crossed over and taped them into the book along with writing a message to each one. I imagine myself sitting across a table and reminiscing with them over the times we shared. The laughter and the tears. I remark on what I admired and appreciated in them while we shared a friendship.
I had several friends to catch up on. When friends live great distances away and the notice of their passing comes as a telephone call, it left me with a sense of loss that couldn’t be processed the same way a local funeral service might provide. I found creating this book has been a great source of consolation to me. As each person’s pages felt complete, I moved to the next one.
This book will sit on a small altar in my home as a prayer offering and reminder that they are not forgotten. I can’t describe the sense of relief it has given me. I offer this up to anyone who has had difficulty coming to terms with the loss of a loved one. It can serve for words left unsaid between you. It can be a joyous celebration of who they were to you and how you benefited from knowing them. Make it what works for you.
Walks Across the Moon and Stars
Gail Ouimet copyright ©2018