Día de los Muertos, a positive outlook on the grieving process



A Positive Outlook

Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday traditionally celebrated on November 1 and 2 that celebrates past loved ones. In recent years, it has also been celebrated in the United States by those who are familiar with the holiday and those who have embraced its concept.

While the topic of death is often avoided, in the first week of November the memories of past loved ones are celebrated. For many, the grieving process is a private matter, but with Día de los Muertos, we have learned that this does not always have to be the case.

“[Día de los Muertos] is a beautiful opportunity to explore Mexican-Hispanic culture and get a greater understanding of what that person’s belief is of death and a greater sense of life,” said RavenMortem Hearse Club Executive Director and Certified Grief Counselor Jerm Lugosi.

One of the most positive aspects of Día de los Muertos is that it brings the community together. Individuals can honor their loved ones with beautiful ofrendas, or altars, made up of photos of their past loved ones and their favorite foods. Altars are often decorated with bright colors, radiant skulls, and, of course, the beautiful marigold flower.

At Valley Animal Center, we see this occasion as an opportunity to celebrate the lives of beloved lost pets, including dogs and cats who spent their final days in our care. This year, we’ve extended the event through November 9 as a way to give others a chance to visit our altar dedicated to animals who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Our focus is on the light they brought into our lives and the love we shared during their time with us.

“It is an opportunity to pay tribute and honor loved ones, including pets,” Jerm said.

Beloved Lost Pets

Losing a pet is especially hard, and at Valley Animal Center, we want you to know that you are not alone. We understand your loss. A pet’s love is genuine; it is a love without any judgements or conditions; it is simple and whole. In honor of them, we have created an ofrenda that honors that connection, and we’ve extended our invitation to members of our community at no cost. If you would like us to include a photo of your pet and a note you’ve written about them or to them, simply submit your entry here: https://valleyanimal.org/diadelosmuertos-2023/#ENTRY

This year, we also encourage you to make a $5 donation in memory of your pet. You may also choose add-ons, which include listing your submission on our website through December 31, 2023, adding a link to your website or social media account, or creating your own ofrenda. To add any of the above, click HERE and be sure to read the descriptions for each add-on to gain a better understanding of what each entails. For example, if you choose to create your own ofrenda, you are reserving a spot that accommodates a 6-foot folding table. You can visit us during business hours to decorate your altar and include photos of your pets and any of their favorite snacks in time for our Día de los Muertos Celebration (see below).

“[Submitting an entry] is an opportunity to share the journey you had with your pets with others who have also lost their furry best friends,” said Alisia Sanchez, our marketing manager. “Every pet featured is still loved by those they left behind, and we understand that seeing the altar can be overwhelming. When you visit, you remember your pet and cherish how much they mean to you… Even though it can be sad, it’s a beautiful, hopeful way to reach out to them, wherever they are, and tell them how much you love them.”

The last day to submit an entry is Saturday, November 4th. To view the altar, you have until November 9th. For visiting hours, click HERE.

Death Café/Día de los Muertos Celebration

A Death Café can sound ominous but it is actually an inviting and respectful gathering where people can feel free to talk about their loved ones. Thanks to Jerm, we are hosting one on November 5th from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at our facility located at 3934 N. Hayston Ave. in Fresno. Jerm has led many in the past and believes they are very beneficial for all those involved. 

“You meet the best people,” Jerm said, “and even create your own support network and it’s a beautiful thing.”

After the Death Café, we will open up our altar to our Día de los Muertos Celebration from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. where we welcome our community to pay a visit to our altar and all the animals featured in it this year.

To RSVP to these events, click HERE.

Valley Animal Center is dedicated to serving animal companions in the Central Valley and beyond. Our mission is to unite dogs and cats with loving people. We believe every animal deserves a loving family and furever home. Donate to support our endless mission as we care for hundreds of homeless dogs and cats.