My appreciation for the Day of the Dead


By Fr. Bernie Weir 

Fr. Weir

It is starting to get cold. Fall is underway. The holidays are upon us. Fall and winter always bring things we love and things we hate.

Things we hate, at least that I hate: cold weather, fall surge of COVID, snow and cabin fever. This list also includes standard time, the dark and cold of mornings, and taking my dog for a walk when the snow is deeper than she is tall.

Things we love, at least that I love: getting out the sweaters and flannel shirts, the leaves changing colors, the first snow fall (but only the first one) and soups of all kinds. This list also includes Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s. High on my list is The Day of the Dead (All Souls Day), Nov. 2. The Day of the Dead and its symbols come out of Hispanic cultures.


It is always a good thing to remember our ancestors whether they are in our family or those who have somehow touched our lives. My family doesn’t really understand why I like the Day of the Dead so much.

One of the major symbols for the Day of the Dead are sugar skulls or skulls painted in joyous colors and symbols. Several years ago I received a small skull with my name on it. I was so excited and thought it was a wonderful gift. I have given these skulls to some of my nieces and nephews as baptism gifts. My family thinks it is just weird but they accept it, writing it off as, “Well, that is something Bernie likes, so OK.”

What I liked about the skull I received is that someone thought I was important enough to be remembered. It is a way for those who see the skull after my death to remember me, hopefully fondly.

As we walk into the coming months, which are filled with holidays, family gatherings and parties, I hope that those around you will think of you as someone important enough to remember after you are no longer with them. I also hope that the people in your life are important enough for you to remember after they are no longer walking with you.

If you need additional people important enough for you to remember, reach out to those on the margins or people you might never have thought about getting to know. They could become important enough for you to remember and make your life richer and fuller. Remember, you are important enough for Christ our Lord to remember you. 

Among those I remember and pray for on the Day of the Dead are three people I ministered to as each was dying. I learned a great deal about dying from each one. They are faith ancestors for me.
The first person was terrified of dying. He was agitated and moving around before he passed. I did not want to experience death in that way.

The second person was comfortable with death. As he began the dying process, he told me to go home because he knew I had Mass the next day. I told him I would stay. Later, his wife gave him a kiss, which interrupted his dying process. He told me, “You might as well go home because I’m not going to make it tonight.” He was calm. Death was the next step for him.

The third person was an older woman who asked me, as she was dying, “Am I doing this correctly? I want to make sure I do it right and that it’s a good death.” I told her I thought she was doing it absolutely correctly and that she was going to have a nice death.

(Father Bernie Weir is pastor of St. James Parish in Wash­ington.)

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