Altares for mis muertos

During this year’s Day of the Dead, I took a step back to breathe in the emotions that come with remembering my muertos. There are days of guilt for moving on with experiences I wish I could’ve shared with them. Fiestas, new additions to the family, laughter, memories.

Nobody warned me that time would make it harder. I’ve always heard it gets easier with time, but that’s just a lie to provide comfort.

I didn’t do so because it wasn’t a custom we grew up with or practiced in our home, but I often think creating an altar during Day of the Dead is something I’d like to pick up sometime to celebrate with my nieces and nephews in a means to help them remember the ancestors who would’ve loved them so much.

In creating altares for my beloved, these are the supplies I would need to create my ofrenda:

– yellow marigolds (cempazuchitl) for traditional purposes
– forget me nots to emphasize I’ll forget them not
– paper flowers and papel picado created by my family
– images of my dearly departed
– a statue of La Virgen de Guadalupe, particularly in memory of my Abuela Carmen & Great Abuela Toña, devout followers
– candles to light their way home
– a mantel I was gifted by my Great Aunt Tomasa during my last visit with her in our family’s ejido in Durango, MX
– a Big Red for ama, pan dulce for my abuelitas, tamales for my great aunts, beans for my abuelos, and pasta for my brother
– playing cards for ama and my brother Tim, gamblers at heart
– glasses of water for sustenance during their journeys
– incense to purify the air
– letters/drawings from my nieces & nephews as gifts to their grandma & uncle
– Band-Aids for my brother, the biggest clutz ever

I’m sure my family would have input on what else we could decorate our altares with. What would you use to honor your dearly departed when creating an altar?