When my mom died in 2014, I remember googling "what to do when your mom dies?" and not being able to find a lot of resources for the specific grief/mourning process I was going through.
This week has been refreshing in that respect. Refinery29 is actually doing a series of articles as part of Death Week. I especially loved the article about how different cultures deal with death. A big part of my process has been defining grief not so much as a process to get through, but more of a experience that becomes a part of my "new normal."
Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead has always been something I enjoyed being part of. I gravitated toward the idea of celebrating a loved one's life and doing it loudly.
Reflecting on it now, there were several things I gravitated towards while I was growing up that helped setup a foundation for what would become my grief process. I read self-help books about resilience and 'bouncing back' even though I was lucky enough to have a pretty sheltered and boring childhood. I chose gen-eds in college and electives in high school on "death and dying." Somehow, a majority of the movies we watched as a family touched on cancer and loss.
I'm glad that I had those resources before I knew I would need them. I've been hard-pressed to find comprehensive resources or representation about grief, death/loss and mourning.
I love Dia de los Muertos as a holiday because it normalizes and publicizes remembering people who we've loved and lost. It's a designated time to talk about death, connect with others, normalize death as part of life and celebrate together.
I came across a beautifully done and moving short video on Dia de los Muertos yesterday, you can view it below.
Since my mom's death, I've sat on the floor in many bookstores scanning books about death and grief. A few books I love that have helped me:
This is one of the books I read long before my mom passed away. Why I picked up a book about recovering from trauma before I knew what trauma was? Your guess is as good as mine, but I'm very happy I did.
I only recently found this book. It has been a great tool in helping me acknowledge my grief daily. I've found that ignoring the process leads to me hitting what I call a grief wall out of nowhere, and feeling unprepared for it. Reading a short entry daily has been grounding.
I came across this book completely by chance. It was at an empty register while I was waiting in a line buying underwear. Did I start crying when I started reading it? Absolutely.
This was actually given to us by my mom's hospice. It's more of a pamphlet and there are several in the series. I like how easy to digest they are. I know I could barely read or focus shortly after my mom died and this was the only kind of reading I would have been able to manage. Excellent for the basics.