Hispanic cultures are very accepting of death. We have festivities about Dia de los Muertos, which translates to “Day of the Dead.” However, often, families rarely speak about the grieving process. How do we move forward with our lives? How do I cope with these thoughts and feelings?
I grew up in a Hispanic family where we were never educated about death. We also did not discuss the hows and whys of death, but we were supposed to grasp that it just occurred. I used to believe that I had a decent understanding of what death and grieving entailed, but after my mother passed away, I found that not only did I know nothing about grief and loss, but I also had no idea how to deal with the loss of someone so dear to me.
Well, here’s what I learned about death, loss, and grief:
Stages of grief:
Shock: Shock, disbelief, and a desire to downplay the circumstance
Denial: Trying to ignore the loss or change
Anger: A normal reaction to death.
Bargain: Making agreements that may require sacrifices to bring back the deceased
Depression: Waves of sadness and longing throughout months or years
Acceptance: Recognizing, accepting, and adapting to the loss
You may or may not go through all the stages, but you will go through most of them in no particular order and maybe more than once. It is okay to feel these emotions and to go through these stages.
Here are some do’s and don’ts if you know someone is grieving.
Do give your condolences
Don’t tell them their loved one is in a better place
Do allow them to cry and/or be angry
Don’t tell them to stop crying or being angry
Do be there for them; sometimes you don’t have to say anything, just be there.
Don’t avoid them. This could damage your relationship.
Death and grief are uncomfortable situations, especially if you have never lost anyone close to you. Ask your grieving friend/family member how you can be there for them and how you can help; no one is ever prepared for death. It is as simple as offering to cook for them, clean the house, buy groceries, watch their kids (if they have any), or simply just checking in – a simple message of “I’m thinking about you” is sometimes all they need.
- Rosa Schuff- ACSW