AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — For Margie Olivarez, celebrating Dia De Los Muertos, or the Day Of The Dead, is an important part of the grieving process.
“Sharing their, their experiences, their memories, you know, death is, you know, sometimes people think it’s a sad thing,” she said. “But it should be a joyful thing because we are filled with memories of those that departed.”
She celebrates the dearly departed by adding pictures and some of their favorite items when they were living.
“It’s a good reason to go and pick up that can of Busch when you don’t even drink Busch. That’s what we remember so well,” she said.
She told us that in sharing stories and memories of those who’ve passed on, it brings a sense of closeness.
“When I lost my dad, it was something ‘oh, now I get to add him to my, my altar. But I was able to talk to people, ‘this is my papi, and this is what he did, and this is what he liked to drink.’ It helps me in my grief process, because I love talking about those that have gone before me, especially my parents,” she explained.
Dia De Los Muertos is a celebration that originated in Mexico. It reunites the spirits of the living and the dead.
Some celebrate it with parades and bands marching through cities. At the grave or the altar, they make ofrendas that consist of marigold flowers, and food and drinks that the person loved.
It’s a unique part of the grieving process.
“Grieving is not linear. When a person grieves, they may grieve differently than you do,” said Michelle Saenz, a licensed professional clinician associate and a mental health clinician at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Medicine in Amarillo. “You have to really lean in on each other instead of apart you really have to support each other even though your grieving is different. And you need to speak to each other and try your hardest to support each other. You’ll have your ups and downs.”
She tells us when it comes to talking about grief with children, the sooner the better.
“The sooner you talk to them, the easier it is for them to cope later on in life when someone they know personally passes away. You can start talking to children about about death right away as soon as they are little when they see a flower die or a bug die, and you talk to them in the language that is appropriate for them,” she explained.
As for Olivarez, she’ll just keep celebrating.