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Children, Death and Our Troubled Reactions

by sanmigueltimes
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Children’s funerals are so sad. Here the departed was so small Dad can still carry him or her single highhandedly with the coffin.

The above was one of my recent social media postings.  I enjoy social media and consider it a fun hobby posting endlessly about San Miguel’s history and culture often with a bit of wit.  However, this posting I hesitated over.

I know from experience that when I post a discarded coffin from a recycled tomb I’ll get over 500 written responses in less than an hour.  We foreigners get up in arms about the notion of a tomb being reused.  I use these images to reinforce the notion that if I’ve no one to pay my tomb taxes every five years in the same office I pay my house taxes (both are real estate) I’ll lose my tomb space.  However, if I’ve no one paying my taxes then no one is bringing me back for Day of the Dead then I’ve permanently gone on to eternal life with God.  Hence, my corpse or tomb is no more important to me than my old shoes.

The notion of your death date being your actual birth date baffles foreigners as we’d like to think as our graves being our “eternal” resting spot.  The image of keeping a cemetery living, so to speak, is a great conversation starter.

The dead child was a different story though.  Granted 99% of the over 600 responses were favorable.  Most understood that a funeral is a public event complete with fireworks and a parade through town.  However, some folks from up North or across the pond had real difficulties dealing with the realities of the situation.

One gal went berserk exclaiming since a child dying before a parent was “completely unnatural” it had no place on social media, or anywhere.  Now, I’ve outlived a child, my parents several, and it never occurred to me if it were natural or not.  No one comes into this world with a guaranteed amount of time here, and death comes on a dime.  To assume there is a hierarchical sequence to death means you haven’t lived too terribly long or you are very oblivious.

Luckily I know better to respond to harsh criticism and let others do it for me.  Several other parents of deceased children wrote in only wishing their children’s funerals had been public events with photos for them to view today instead of sad, hidden away affairs.

Others remarked how in Mexico’s culture a child that dies before you reminds you you’ll have an angel or saint waiting for your arrival eager to ease you with your transition.  Plus by having the child carried through town by Dad reminds us viewers to offer prayers for the family and realize is there any lovelier way to taken to rest than in arms of your father?

Some enjoyed the real life application of life after death concepts presented in the movie, Coco which motivated a German gal to respond “Coco was a child’s movie!  Are we to believe in mermaids now too?”  It took a lot of several control to not respond “Dead mermaids, perhaps.”

Folks wrote about the changing images of death over time and how photos of the dead were often the only time in life they were photographed, thus forced to appear, ahem, “life like”.  A cameo and pivotal plot point in the movie, The Others.

Some questioned the point of displaying the image, which to me was the point.  The image obviously isn’t, ascetically or technically speaking, great art but it ignited deep conversations by the dozens.  That’s makes it a powerful image for which I’m proud of.

If you want to ponder different interpretations of life and death scroll down to mid-January posting on my FaceBook pages while enjoying your morning coffee.


Joseph Toone is the Historical Society’s short-story award winning author of the SMA Secrets book series.  All books in the series are Amazon bestsellers in Mexican Travel and Holidays.  Toone is SMA’s expert and TripAdvisor’s top ranked historical tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s SMA.  Visit HistoryAndCultureWalkingTours.com, and JosephTooneTours.com.

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