It’s day 3 of Dia de los Muertos Week and I’m taking a bit of a different approach today with this “Always” Free Coloring Print. I know, I know. Where are the skulls and the bright colors? How could this possibly relate to Day of the Dead?! I promise you it will!
A few years ago, while I was pregnant with my second son, we experienced a number of losses to our immediate families. Some were unexpected, some were gradual, all of them were heartbreaking. My older son was around two at the time of their death and we were left completely unprepared with how to explain the loss. How do you explain death to someone who doesn’t truly understand what living is?
Well, there I was, 8 months pregnant with a two year old asking me why he couldn’t see his grandmother anymore. I vaguely remember talking to him about death being the absence of life or something like that. I was a new mother dealing with a new issue and I was so grossly unprepared. Luckily, it was so over his head at the time that I think he just nodded and asked me to read him Where The Wild Things Are.
I was given a temporary reprieve from having to explain the permanence of death to my little boy and I was definitely going to use the extra time productively! I started reading books and articles on children and death, trying to prepare for the coming day when Jack would really need me to help him understand death. And through all my reading, you want to know the number one thing I discovered?
Even with extremely young children, you have to normalize death. You have to make it ok for them to talk about their sadness and their anger. To talk about how unfair it is that his uncle was taken away. To talk about how much he’ll be missed. But to do all that talking, the subject of death has got to stop being taboo and off-limits. And that’s where Day of the Dead comes into play! For us, Dia de los Muertos has become an important yearly tradition that opens the gates to a real and honest conversation about death and for that matter, life.
It’s there, in front of a small desk with pictures of his Grandma Brady, Uncle Mike, Grandpa Gilbert and Zefram (our family dog) that Jack has felt comfortable enough to share his sadness and fears. To share that he dreams about Zefram sometimes and wonder if he’ll ever see him again. To ask us if everything dies, even his mama and papa?
Dia de los Muertos makes it ok to laugh while making crepe paper flowers one minute and cry about Grandpa Gilbert the next. That even grown ups are sad and cry sometimes. Day of the Dead is helping me teach my boys how to be comfortable with their emotions and that I’ll always be there to listen to their hard questions, even if I don’t have the answers.
So, to celebrate Dia de los Muertos Week and those loved ones who have passed before us, I’ve created a coloring print that helps remind us that the connections and love we make are eternal. Whether you color it in as meditation to help you through a personal loss or to help you discuss a difficult topic with a young child, I hope you can find some peace and perhaps joy in your sadness.