Day of the Dead: An Opportunity to Talk About Death with your Child

Day of the Dead: An Opportunity to Talk About Death with your Child

Day of the Dead is an opportunity to talk to a child about death, a subject that can be very difficult to brooch. However, using this long-standing holiday as an opportunity to address the confusing issue of death allows for you to bring up the topic in your own way. Too often the first time we discuss death with our children is during whirlwind that often follows the loss of a loved one or pet.

The colors and images associated with Day of the Dead are powerful and concrete. Having a concrete representation for death can help facilitate a child’s understanding of what death means. There are three books I like that can help a parent communicate to a child about death. The first is a small picture book by Mary Dodson-Wade called El Dia de los Muertos. This book reads like a documentary and uses real photographs to explain Day of the Dead.  The second is a workbook titled The Day of the Dead Folk Art Book. This book has Dia de los Muertos images that can be colored, as well as a journal section at the end that can be used to help a child (or adult) talk about a person or animal they lost. The third book by Eric Gonzalez and Erich Haeger titled Rosita Y Conchita is a fictional story about a girl named Conchita who uses a Day of the Dead alter to connect to her departed sister Rosita who is in the spirit world. Gonzalez and Haeger use bright cartoon drawings and  rhymes written in both Spanish and English to tell an imaginative touching story about the real life traditions of Day of the Dead.

In addition to reading these books, consider, making an altar this year. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be yours. Making one in the safety of your own home can be a good way to start. Hidden feelings can arise when participating in Day of the Dead,  and giving yourself a private space to have your experience is important. Think of all the ways  making an altar with your child can be a powerful bonding experience, and teach important lessons: role-modeling expression, sharing family history, and creating new memories.

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