Over a year ago, my kids and I went to see the new children’s animated movie entitled “Coco” - which is produced by Pixar Films. The visually colorful children’s animation looks into the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos. The story explores the mythology of why we sing songs and remember the dead through an ofrenda - the beautiful altars filled with decorations and pictures of those who have died.
If you haven’t yet seen the movie “Coco”, I won’t spoil it for you by giving you the plot of the story. But I will share with you the big idea around the significance of the act of remembering. The premise of the celebration of Dia de los Muertos is that our loved ones never really leave us so long as we remember them. By telling and re-telling their life’s story, we invite them back into our lives.
There is an ancient Greek word for that - “Anamnesis” - which is when the future and past coalesce and break into the present moment. So in the act of remembering or “anamnesis,” the retelling of stories about our loved ones who have died allows our loved ones to become present in the here and now. In turn this retelling gives new meaning and new life to emptiness and meaninglessness.
Hence, the act of remembering is a sacred act - it is a healing act. Our hearts may be broken, but we fill the open spaces of our broken heart with the healing balm of the memories and sacred stories that we share with each other. That is why we retell our stories: to remember, to reconnect, and embark on a grief journey towards healing.
And so, as illustrated in the movie, “Coco” - may we all travel on our grief journey with the goal of being able to sing again. Perhaps not just sing, but also dance again...even if - as the writer Ann Lammot says - even if we dance with a limp.
May it be so.
Join me in chewing the cud on mindful communication and relationships, self-awareness, spirituality and mythology.