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The Art of a Good Death
Day of the Dead, Dä'thä Over Dinner, Concert, Thurs. Oct 31

by EKR México Centro

People who visit México or choose to move to México tend to remark on and value the jovial relationship Mexicans have with death. Especially after the movie Coco became popular, foreigners are lightened and relieved to witness the Day of the Dead spectacles, understanding in some intuitive way that there is something more to death than our Western culture's pervasive denial of it.

What is not evident is that Mexicans, while comfortable with honoring our ancestors and our dead, are commonly, as most people around the world, still very scared of the mystery of death, and devastated by our personal losses. What's more, unprotected from the collective death phobia that predominates in modern societies, many of us have moved away from or forgotten the true origins and meaning of celebrating the Days of the Dead.

In the pre-Hispanic calendar there were two veintenas, 20-day months, dedicated to death and our departed. Our celebrations of the dead ran through part of August and all of September. These veintenas were called The Little Feast of the Dead and The Great Feast of the Dead. The first 20 feast days were for the departed children, and the second for the departed adults. The afterlife and the levels of the underworld were an integral part of understanding, appreciating, and learning from death.

It was only after the colonization that these early traditions were adapted and the first and second days of November were established as the celebrations for the dead.

Many ceremonies in México today are an intricate mix between pre-Hispanic and Catholic traditions. Still, through codices and accounts, it is possible to decode certain aspects of the vision that Mesoamerican peoples had about dying, death, and the afterlife. It is also essential for us to look back at these aspects of the cosmovision that reconnects us to the natural cycles of life-death-life in order to better understand ourselves in relation to all of life and to our mortality.

We are lucky to be living in a time when there is more movement and effort to shift our collective death culture from death phobia. Death phobia is the delusion that we can defy the natural course of life into decay and death, and the contemporary obsession to strive to become immortal. This movement away from death phobia is referred to as Death Positive.

Although a recently coined term, the Death Positive movements efforts have existed with less popularity for a very long time. These encompass a variety of efforts that demystify the death taboo, alleviate death anxiety, create spaces for safe exploration and expression around topics of death and dying, honor the natural interest and curiosity about mortality and encourage us to develop a healthy relationship with death. All of these remind us that we all deserve and have the right to the greatest dignity, quality and humanity at the end of our lives.

The Death Café movement, which started in 2010, is a lovely international social franchise that facilitates casual conversations about death. Meeting as equals who are going to die, people gather to drink coffee or tea, eat baked goods, and explore thoughts, ideas, questions, experiences, feelings and observations about death with the objective to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their finite lives. (www.deathcafe.com)

Death Over Dinner (www.deathoverdinner.org), started in 2013, offers tools and prompts to facilitate a conversation about death... over dinner. "The dinner table is the most forgiving place for difficult conversation. The ritual of breaking bread creates warmth and connection, and puts us in touch with our humanity."

Our consciousness-raising events bring practical, ancestral traditions and aspects of nature's cycles of life-death-life along with Mesoamerican images and narratives to the community by way of the dinner table. Dä'tha means "the long sleep," that is, death, in our regional Otomí language. The name we give to our event, Dä'tha Over Dinner, plays with these concepts as an invitation to explore mortality through the lenses of the past and the present. In this culinary adventure we explore the link between the pre-Hispanic calendar and the cycles of heaven and earth, remembering that everything that is alive, giving thanks to those who have passed and exploring lessons from the underworld.

Come to our Special Day of the Dead Dä'thä Over Dinner and Concert, Thursday October 31, with special guest Ian McCartor. Ian is a Hospice nurse, death poet, and legacy songwriter. Find out more about EKR MXC as we explore the true origins and traditions of the Days of the Dead, have an ancestral dinner, talk about death and evolving our end-of-life culture within the context of the current death positive movement, and listen to Ian's stories and songs.

Enjoy the dynamic and enriching combination of pre-hispanic astronomy, ancestral gastronomy, Mesoamerican cosmology, and the Death Positive movement at this special consciousness-raising Day of the Dead event. Learn about the true origins and traditions of the Days of the Dead and bring meaning to your personal Day of the Dead experience.

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The Art of a Good Death workshop, Tuesday, November 5 - Discover what gets in the way of a good death, and explore and experience playful and practical approaches that will help you, in all aspects of your being, feel prepared for the loss of your loved ones and for your own death.

In this experiential workshop, we will uncover what gets in the way of a good death. We will explore and experience playful and practical approaches that help us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually feel prepared to stay present through the loss of our loved ones and feel prepared for our own death.

The workshop is designed so each participant experiences an individual and collective journey of greater self-awareness and self-discovery toward greater personal wellness and wholeness, and greater peace with life.

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The Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (EKR) Foundation and its international branches are non-profit organizations inspired by the work of psychiatrist, humanitarian and hospice pioneer, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Popularly known for the Five Stages of Grief, Elisabeth is often referred to as "the death and dying lady." Elisabeth more aptly referred to herself as the "life and living lady."

EKR México Centro, with headquarters in San Miguel de Allende, is dedicated to creating platforms for didactic discussion and facilitating conversations about loss, grief, aging, illness, dying, end-of-life care, death, and beyond. We stand for compassionate care for the grieving, the dying, and those who love them, fostering awareness of the power of love and forgiveness as essential elements of good living and good dying. Inspired by Elisabeth's work, teachings, and deeds, we aim to evolve our death culture and bring humanity back to our loss, grief, dying, and end-of-life processes.

One way we seek to do this is through consciousness-raising events that connect and reveal the relevance of our ancestral traditions, the cycles of nature and life-death-life, and the current Death Positive movement, which brings us out of death denial and into a right and healthy relationship with our losses and our mortality.

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