The Influence of Immigrant Culture on the Grieving Process

As we have found ourselves as a society dealing with loss, grief, and difficult times generally, it is important to reflect and process these emotions as part of maintaining our mental health and coming to terms with acceptance. For many, the journey to healing when faced with loss is the confusion and questioning of the emotions felt as a result.

People often wonder: How can I cope with this loss? One of the greatest influences and ways of coping with loss comes from the holiday Dia De Los Muertos, a cultural tradition that has transpired into American culture from our immigrants. This holiday has not only revolutionized the grieving process, but has shown the strong impact our immigrant communities have on our lives.

The holiday, Dia De Los Muertos, originates in indigenous Aztec culture, based in Mexico where the death of those, either children or adults were reflected in celebrations and remembrance of their life. This translates into the present celebration of Dia De Los Muertos where the memory of the connections between us and our departed loved ones are honored through decorated memorials, altars, parades, food, music, and art. Instead of allowing losses to consume one in a shroud of depression, the Mexican culture focuses all of those emotions into reflecting on the positivity of what once was and how that memory lives on through celebration as it is seen as offensive to the dearly departed to pour sadness and suffering into their passing.

Although rooted in death-related loss, the concept of mourning with the celebration of life that Dia De Los Muertos has projected onto us can help with other forms of loss such as employment, friendship, separation of family members, business shutdowns, etc. Many can fall into a deep depression and experience anxiety or lack of motivation when having to deal with a grieving process. However, by adopting the concept of positive remembrance through a celebration of existence that Dia De Los Muertos has given us, even just a small memorial or a written reflection note can make all the difference emotionally and mentally. For that, we have our Mexican immigrants to thank for passing on these powerful cultural traditions.