Loss, Remembrance, and What I Learned from "Disney"

I took my daughter to see the Disney/Pixar film, Coco. As with any Disney film, there is a greater lesson to be learned for the adults than the children.  The movie is based in Mexico and centered around the Spanish feast, “Dio de los muertos”, translated, “Day of the Dead”.  The holiday commemorates those family members who have passed by awaiting their spirits to return home.  An altar is set with the pictures of loved ones lost and candles lit, hoping to light the way for their spiritual journey home.  The feast day, and the movie, resonated particularly strong in the heart and mind of a funeral director.  The moral of the holiday and the film was remembrance.  When we remember those we love we keep their spirit alive.  In the movie, those family members who had been forgotten, and who’s picture did not make it to the sacred altar, would face what is known as “real death”.

Once again, Disney got it right.

Death removes a physical body from this Earth. But not a spirit, not a soul.  Death doesn’t remove the bonds of love and friendship that tie us together in this life.  Death creates but a physical boundary line that we can’t cross.  But the Spanish culture, as displayed in the movie, love and honor their deceased loved ones as if they still existed in a physical realm.  The only way one could truly “die” is to be forgotten.  When stories are no longer shared, memories are no longer recounted, children are not taught about their family who have gone before them, that is when death occurs. 

The Irish poem perhaps says it best; “Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh And talk of me as if I were beside you.” Our loved ones are beside us. Though we can’t see them, touch them, hold them, hug them, they are here.   We can talk to them, talk about them, laugh with them. We are only separated by space.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I urge you to do so, adults and children alike. You will leave the theater with your heart warmed and your eyes wet. The message; keep the stories going. Let your children know about their grandparents and great grandparents, aunts, uncles and all those who are no longer here. You might be surprised the power of genetics, that traces of those who have passed live on within our children. For me, the memories live on through my daughter. Her name, Mia Florence, is a tribute to the great grandmother & nana that have left this earth but live in my heart. Each time I call my daughter’s name I think of them. She, too, at age 6, knows of them and speaks of them as if they were personally acquainted. I know they love her in Heaven the same as they would have on Earth. It is a comfort beyond measure.

Although they have died, let them live through our memory. Real death is only when one is forgotten. Remember them for who they were, how they loved us and how we loved them. Our time on this Earth is limited. Our time in the hearts of those we touch is endless.


Best wishes to all,