We all know that tonight is “halloween” but do you know that in Mexican culture tomorrow is the Day of the Little Angels (Día de los Angelitos), a day dedicated to honour babies and children who have passed? Día de los Angelitos is part of a 2 day celebration that “focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey” (Wikipedia)
I searched for cultural practices surrounding infant loss after Elliott died stuck wondering if what I wanted (to talk about him and share him) was ‘normal’. I searched for information on Halloween suddenly terrified we did a terrible thing having his final day on this day (we didn’t even realise when we initially made the plan). When I discovered information on Dia de los Angelitos I felt so much comfort.
Their belief is that little souls will arrive at midnight tonight to return to their home and family to spend one full day with their loved ones. It occurs the day before the big events of the main “Day of the Dead” as they believe the spirits of the children run ahead of the spirits of adults in eagerness to return to the land of the living.
Some parents with children who have passed away create alters with food, toys and offerings on their child’s grave or at their home, often outside for everyone to see. “It is a beautiful way to remember an extremely painful moment…it is an opportunity for us to remember the beauty of their lives and gives hope that one day we will meet again. For parents, it is an especially bittersweet day, but one that provides space for healing and celebration” (http://www.mommymaestra.com/2016/11/dia-de-los-angelitos.html?m=1) It may seen morbid and foreign to western cultures to celebrate those passed in such a way, but all I can see is a wonderful tradition full of love and beauty.
This shows our culture of silence around Pregnancy and Infant Loss is just that, simply a culture. How beautiful to have a culture that acknowledges ALL lives, including babies and infants even after death. A culture that comes together to celebrate and honour. A culture that isn’t scared of grief. A culture that doesn’t judge those who wish to create special spaces for their loved ones or want to publicly honour them. A culture that has a nationally recognised day for our little ones. I hope one day the culture we have will shift to one of understanding and acknowledgment of the beautiful little lives that are missed so much.
One day I hope I can take Emma and Ashton to Mexico and see first hand a culture that celebrates those passed in such a beautiful way together as a society. For now I’ll make sure we light his candle, leave his special light on all night and day and say “we love you and miss you”, and hope they are right and that our angel will visit us from midnight tonight for the day.