Culture is defined as a way of living of a group of people, including the conducts, philosophies, morals and codes that the group agrees with, commonly without even thinking about them, and they are normally passed from one age group to another through communication and imitation. This piece of work will give a critique about the death and dying in the Mexican culture.
Summary of Mexican Culture
The Mexican culture has been blend into three cultures, that is the unique Mexican Culture, the Spanish culture and the Native American Culture that has advanced all over the years. The three influences symbolize that there are three traditions in Mexico. A plaza was built in Mexico City to express the presence of these three traditions (Bryant, 2011). This plaza contains a stone ruin of an Aztec market, a Catholic church that was built by Spanish and skyscrapers stand as a sign of contemporary Mexican tradition. The customary way of living can be seen in small villages and the rural towns. In the middle of each village, there is a plaza where people gather to hold talks and to trade (Brandes, 1998).
Independence Day in Mexico is celebrated on every 16th of September where people modernize Father Hidalgo’s call to rise against the Spanish regulation (Bryant, 2011). Mexicans also view fireworks and perform music in the villages until late that night of Independence Day. Mexicans celebrate the day of the dead on every 1st and 2nd of November where they honor fellow Mexicans who have died. Also, all villages hold a fiesta with processions, competitions, and feasts (Corr & Bordere, 2013). This fiesta is usually celebrated on Saint’s day, and it is a day to honor the memory holy people in Mexico. Mexican culture was chosen because it has very rich traditions. Researching on this culture gives a researcher enough information on traditions and beliefs.
Significant Religious Beliefs
Mexico is intensely a Catholic faith nation where about ninety percent of its population belongs to the catholic faith. The Catholic priest presides over funerals and carries out mass so as to chase away dead spirits because they believe that the dead spirit can bring harm to the family of the deceased (Hill & Becker, 2008). Fire is lit on candles as a way of representing the soul of the departed and water is put in big bowls for the gone souls to drink while coming to the altar. People believed that the dead continued to worship in churches thus they will use the water during the service (Hill & Becker, 2008). The Wind which is blown using the Chinese paper fan is a symbol of life continuation.
During the day of the dead, the altars are colorfully decorated. The Virgin of Guadalupe is represented in every part of the town. The Guadalupe is a symbol of Catholic faith and tribal mixture that became Mexico (Hill & Becker, 2008). Every 17th of December, there is a Catholic feast in Mexico as a sign of Guadalupe’s honor where Mexicans come to respect her in beautiful Basilica and they crawl on their knees along the Basilica square anticipating to have her glimpse (Hill & Becker, 2008). They also purchase her picture and put in their homes because they believe that it will watch over their property including cars, homes, children and business premises.
Burial and Funeral Practices
The Catholic faith is the basis for funeral and burial practices. This is because Mexico was colonized by the Spanish who introduced Catholic faith in this nation (Hill & Becker, 2008). The symbol of ashes is smeared off a person’s forehead as a sign coming from dust and so shall return to the earth. When a person dies in Mexico, the culture permits the dead to stay with people before being taken to a funeral home or a church for two days (Corr & Bordere, 2013). During this time, the departed remain in their home with a modest coffin for them to lay inside.
The dead are buried with their belongings including clothes, best food and all personal possessions in their coffins. It is believed that they will continue to use them on their journey to the next world. Novenas which involves special prayers, recitation, and mass are performed by the after the dead have been buried (Hill & Becker, 2008). Such Novenas are meant to intercede for the dead to God. Every person is regarded as a sinner, and therefore he or she needs to be mediated to God for forgiveness. Also, these are meant to give the family a tolerance during those hard times.
Death can be defined as the end of existing of something or life while dying the initial phase before death. In the Mexican culture, the dying period is used to resolve unresolved disputes within the family by all members coming together (Brandes, 1998). Diagnosis of the brain shows that it can control the movement of the pupil, heart function and other body activities like walking. We can associate death with the heart since it can only occur when the heart stops beating. This leads to a state of no circulation of blood hence oxygen cannot be supplied to the brain and finally death. Further, studies show that people who are dead their brain can be kept alive implying that the brain cannot cause death (Corr & Bordere, 2013). A Festus is the stage of organism development between embryo and birth. Mexican culture agrees with the fact that an embryo is a living being. Therefore, Mexican highly respects their pregnant women and treats abortion as murder (Bryant, 2011).
Treatment of the Terminally Ill
In traditional Mexico, the terminally ill were taken care of by female relatives who in most cases would not ask for help from outside (Brandes, 1998). Family members resist the idea of taking such patients to hospitals and other nursing homes. Ideally, all the terminally ill would stay at home under the care of the family members until they die. This creates a time for resolving unsettled issues within the family (Hill & Becker, 2008). There is no insurance cover to cater for medical needs of the terminally ill patients since they stay at home until they die.
Homicide includes all the killing of human beings and most of them in Mexico include murder and manslaughters. Deaths in Mexico are related to robbery with violence where thieves tend to kill in their activities of stealing properties from the public (Corr & Bordere, 2013). The Mexican government does not condone such kind of killings hence it does all efforts to curb this behavior in the nation by arresting murderers and sentencing them to life imprisonments or imposing a fine of significant amount of money (Hill & Becker, 2008).
Suicide is the act of deliberately triggering one’s death while assisted suicide is suicide committed with the aid of another person (Bryant, 2011). Suicide is treated as a criminal offense, and it is punishable if a person is called attempting to kill him or herself. Initially, the Mexican Constitution, Article 166 bis 21 of the Overall Well-being Act stated that an assisted suicide is a mercy homicide and therefore it is allowed (Brandes, 1998). Commonly, assisted suicide would be done on the terminally ill people. Such people are commonly under very intense pain and are believed not to survive the illness. Assisting such a person to kill him or herself is acceptable in Mexico because it alleviates pain from the suffering patient. However, this law has been opposed by the Catholic Church which claims that life should be respected from the moment of embryo formation until ordinary death (Hill & Becker, 2008). Therefore, this rule has been amended under the support of the Catholic Church and assisted suicide is no longer allowed by the state.
Other Factors Significant to Death and Dying
News about a terminally ill person may activate pro-active heartache to those individuals in relation. Information on the fact that an individual will die is pooled with the indecision of not aware the occurrence of the event (Brandes, 1998). Immediately a dead body is prepared for burial; family members hold a feast called wake where they stay with the corpse until the burial time.
Conclusively, the dead and the dying are highly respected in the Mexican culture. The dead are buried with due regard because it is believed that there is life after death, further Mexicans believe that the souls of the dead continue to hover around them. The dying people are well taken off by their female relatives until the time of their death. Mercy homicide is opposed by the Mexican law and the Mexico Catholic church.
Brandes, S. (1998). Iconography in Mexico’s Day of the Dead: origins and meaning. Ethnohistory (Columbus, Ohio), 45(2), 181–218.
Bryant, C. D. (2011). Handbook of death & dying. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.
Corr, C. A., & Bordere, T. C. (2013). Death & dying, life & living (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Hill, J., & Becker, P. D. (2008). Life events and rites of passage: the customs and symbols of major life-cycle milestones, including cultural, secular, and religious traditions observed in the United States. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics.