Dìa de los Muertos – Day of the Dead – is traditionally a Hispanic celebration of life and a way to honor and remember the deceased.
The Sharing Place, a non-profit organization for children, teens and their parents to process grief from losing a loved one, is organizing a fundraising effort surrounding the celebration.
Various businesses, individuals and organizations are joining The Sharing Place in their sole annual fundraising event. Volunteer Coordinator Cecilie Mattison says participants such as Roots Cafe, Tea Grotto and Pig & a Jelly Jar will be holding events over that weekend with proceeds going to The Sharing Place. The event will be a fun, positive way to honor the dead and raise money for the organization.
Started in 1993 by a widow seeking grief support for her children, The Sharing Place offers help to 200 children and 125 families experiencing various stages of grief. There are 14 groups, divided by age, that meet twice monthly for one hour. It is in such demand that some groups have waiting lists. Adults with children in the program also meet for discussion.
A place to reflect on friends and family that have passed. Closure can come in different ways.
“Each situation is unique,” Mattison explained regarding the duration of grief support. “Each person decides when to close, but it’s usually around two years.” There are several rooms throughout the home-like house that help children express their emotions. The Sanctuary, a small space filled with photographs of those lost, allows children to spend quiet time with a picture of a loved one. The Volcano Room has a punching bag, pillows and a stuffed doll that children can use to express anger or loneliness.
“I’ve seen some children sit on it [the doll] and wrap its arms around themselves,” Mattison.
Puppets, costumes, stuffed animals and games pack a playroom. Memory boxes filled with cards and special memories of those lost line a wall downstairs. A Memory Mural in the backyard is made from colorful blocks inscribed with names, flowers or simply the favorite color of a deceased little sister.
“It’s a good visual for them to see they aren’t alone,” Mattison said.
The Sharing Place organized the Dìa de los Muertos celebration as a unique way for the community to get involved. “When someone dies you want to do something, but you just don’t know what to do so you don’t do anything,” Mattison said. “The grief doesn’t go away. It changes, but it doesn’t go away.”
The Sharing Place is at 1695 East 3300 South. Businesses, or individuals interested in participating in the Dìa de los Muertos celebration can contact Cecilie Mattison at 801-466-6730. §