The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


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“We have to mourn the person, We have to cry:” Overcoming sorrow with celebration

Olivia Garcia
Alexandra Lopez Jimenez shows her students Día de los Muertos projects displayed in her classroom. Every year near the time of Day of the Dead, Lopez Jimenez makes her students create “Ofrendas” to present and share with the class.

Grief, loss and pain are emotions no person wants to experience; the cruelty of this world makes us loathe loss more. 

According to the National Alliance for Children’s Grief, an estimated 6 million children in the U.S. alone experience the loss of a loved one by the age of 18. 

Now, social media shows this. According to Grief Statics and Bereavement, there are over 2.8 million posts on Instagram with the #grief hashtag today. 

Kathleen McLeod-Ryan, behavioral health therapist says, “Grief isn’t linear, meaning we don’t go through stages as people and it’s not something we check off our list. We circle back through.”  

McLeod-Ryan also comments that a loss for a teenager or child can be one of the first times that someone realizes that if this can happen to one person it can also happen to him or her and it can be a frightening thought. This is why most teenagers avoid this reality. 

The Xavier community recently lost a beloved and promising student in the sophomore class. After the death of Catalina Perez, McLeod-Ryan spoke to every sophomore theology class for an hour making sure that they were able to talk about the impact of her loss. 

Rev. Elario Zambakari, school chaplain says, “We have to mourn the person; we must cry and let our feelings show. When a person passes away the person is still with us. We will not be able to see this person, but if we ask for help this person will reveal themselves to us in a spiritual way.” 

According to McLeod-Ryan, to get back to normal we have to do the things that are part of our normal routine that occupy our time because we take comfort in our habits. It’s a nice way to distract ourselves from the heaviness of the grief teens and children may experience.  

Although mourning can be something that takes a long time from which to recover, there’s a time where we must stop crying and begin to remember the person for all the beautiful aspects and values he or she brought to our lives.  

One way to remember the passing of loved ones is a special holiday celebrated on November 2. Día de los Muertos is a traditional Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their passed loved ones, honoring them through food, drink and celebration. 

Mexican-Americans celebrate this tradition by creating “Ofrendas” decorated with the loved one’s favorite belongings as well as traditional Mexican items: candles, pan dulces, conchas, churros and marigolds (called “cempasuchil”) put around the ofrenda.  However, the prominent figures in Dia de los Muertos are the calacas (skeletons) and calaveras (skulls).  

This rich holiday dates back to some 3,000 years ago honoring those in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The Aztecs and other indigenous people living in modern day Mexico saw death as an integral part of life. 

Alexandra Lopez Jimenez, Spanish teacher and WAX moderator, says, “The Latin-American culture has crossed the border because of movies like “Coco” and I really like the idea of my students not being afraid of the idea of death but really asking themselves what they (our deceased relatives) taught us.” 

November is traditionally a time when Catholics remember those who have died. This month is symbolic in that it is the end of the Liturgical Year, and the start of a new year is the first Sunday of Advent. 

In regards to those who have died, Sister Joan Fitzgerald, president of Xavier, says, “I pray for the souls in purgatory. These souls are waiting for the purification of seeing God in his fullness and are saints in the making, so I have a special place in my heart for them.” 

There is never a right answer for how to cope with grief; it’s an integral part of life and something everyone goes through. However, when we look at someone who has passed, look at the wonderful, beautiful, little things he or she brought to life in order to make it worthwhile.

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