40 Things To Do Before I’m 40: 8-of-40: Dia De Los Muertos

I have a confession to make: my birthday came and went without me completing 40 cool things before I turned 40. So I decided to keep the list going… to keep finding new and unique things to do… to continue living outside my comfort zone. With that in mind, the wife and I packed the kids in the car for a fun family outing to the cemetery. Yes I said cemetery. You see this is no typical cemetery. And this is no typical day. It is Dia De Los Muertos… a living celebration of the dead… held at the very unusual Hollywood Forever Cemetery.


Dia De Los Muertos is about honoring those who have come before us. At Hollywood Forever, it was a bizarre and wild mix of traditional customs and modern Mardis Gras.


The kids got their faces painted and then we walked through the cemetery with hundreds of others.

Ornate altars along the way honored those who had come before us… loved ones, family members, celebrities. After all, this is Hollywood.


The gravestone for one of The Ramones was decorated with flowers. Others were turned into works of art. People picnicked on the lawns, listened to musicians, and watched traditional dances, all within feet of someone’s hereafter.


My wife said she felt an incredible energy as we walked around, something hard to describe, but easy to feel. I took a picture of a tree in the sun and swore it looked like someone standing on top of the tree looking out for everyone.


My kids didn’t see it. Oh well. And so we walked. Along the way they helped create the artwork for one altar.


And while it was weird having all this happen in a cemetery… something felt just fine about it too… something nice that at least once a year people breathed life into this place. The kids were particularly drawn to one altar which honored famous writers including Hunter S Thompson and Shel Silverstein. There in the cemetery, fans had recreated Shel’s giving tree, the same giving tree we had read each girl when they were little. But today was Dia De Los Muertos and this was a special giving tree. Slowly, with care, our two girls penned my mother’s name, their uncle’s name, and others and added their leaves carefully to the tree. They took such care.


Dia De Los Muertos somehow gave me a peaceful and easy feeling… There amidst the gravestones on an unusually warm fall day, people were asked to honor those who had come before them… and we did.


check out my other 40 before 40 adventures:









About dadmissions

author of Dadmissions. surrounded by a wife and two girls... and a dog named Cupcake
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2 Responses to 40 Things To Do Before I’m 40: 8-of-40: Dia De Los Muertos

  1. I was there with the boys! Not feeling particularly bloggy these days, but I do want to write about this. Last year was my first and I was enchanted by how much life there was in a celebration centered on death. It left me with that same peaceful, easy feeling then you describe now. I had it again today and am challenged to think how to explain that feeling.

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