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Death, a Cultural Look

Death, a Cultural Look

Facing death or any other tragic event, humans are ruled by their cultures much more than by their temperaments. Odd, isn’t it? Let’s contemplate death.

I received an email from a dear Caucasian friend. Her beloved niece is dying of brain cancer. She has told us that the family wants to go low key with her last months. No crying in front of her, no mentioning the doctor’s prognosis of six months or less to live. Few visits, please. She is to tell everyone to respect their wishes.

In an Hispanic household, on the other hand, I know that the whole family and close friends and friends of close friends would swamp her home, never leave the family alone, wail and cry, rub her feet, put some wet towels on her forehead, bring in a curandera. It would be an Event with everyone involved in the process of death and its aftermath. Plus eating and passing tissues around to wipe tears. Plus pass around babies to kiss. The Event would pour out onto the patio in the back and the lawn in the front.

Being Latina raised by a Latina in the barrio, I’m for the inclusion. Yet, I would never think it a cultural thing either. Death is a lone event, so it’s nice to know that your loved ones are there until you cross over cheering you on, even with their sobs because doggone it, you’ll be missed! I want to be missed for not just this generation but for many more. That’s why it’s important to write our stories. We will not be forgotten!!

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