The Thin Veil ~ Dia de los Muertos

As we approach the end of October, I am reminded of the "thin veil" that many people think exists this time of the year between the living and the departed.

© Jane Fulton Alt

Much of my photographic life has been spent exploring death and dying, one of the greatest mysteries and the only certainty of our lives. I have photographed and volunteered in hospice programs, been witness to autopsies, slaughter houses, and cremation rituals in Varanasi, the holiest site in India. I also traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico to learn how Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated. It was staggeringly beautiful. It is a holiday where families gather at the grave site to celebrate and remember friends and family members who have died. The cemeteries are filled with flowers and the flickering light from hundreds and hundreds of candles. Most families also build altars in their homes to coax the spirits back for a visit. These altars include sugar skulls, marigolds, candles, copal (an incense) and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed.

I do think that we, as Americans, have much to learn from other cultures that have long standing rituals which pay homage to their ancestors.

© Jane Fulton Alt

“To be afraid of death is only another form of thinking that one is wise when one is not; it is to think that one knows what one does not know. No one knows with regard to death wheather it is not really the greatest blessing that can happen to man; but people dread it as though they were certain it is the greatest evil." -The Last Days of Socrates”
― Plato