Morbid Traditions: Day of the Dead and Plan Your Epitaph Day

The Day of the Dead. Most everyone has heard of it, but many don’t know exactly what it’s about. I have always loved the art and pageantry that went along with Dia de los Muertos, but I haven’t ever been able to accurately celebrate it — until now.

In central and southern Mexico, the indigenous peoples believe that on the night of October 31st, the gates of the afterlife open up, and the spirits of departed children (angelitos) return to Earth to reunite with their families. This is why much of the Day of the Dead decorations and food are brightly colored, toy-like, and sweet. They’re created in part to appease these beloved lost children, and in part to appease those who still live.

On November 2nd, it is believed that the departed adults return to walk among the living. The offerings left for adults are different — cigars and alcohol are the typical fare. In the afternoon, people go to the cemetery to reminisce, clean the graves of loved ones, and spend time with those who are still alive. Grand altars, called ofrendas are decorated with food, drinks, and candles and left for the weary spirits.

image of a gravestone in winter with the name STIFF

Original image credit to Kenn W. Kiser at

In lighthearted American tradition, a Californian named Lance Hardie created a holiday called Plan Your Own Epitaph Day. Why would you want to write your own epitaph? From the website:

Because, if you do nothing, someone else will put your name and dates on your gravestone, period. If you are terribly unlucky, they’ll add something like ‘Dearly missed’ or ‘Beloved Cousin’ or maybe even worse.

Some epitaphs of notable people follow.

Liberty, Humanity, Justice, Equality — Susan B. Anthony

“That’s All Folks!” The Man of a Thousand Voices — Mel Blanc

Called Back — Emily Dickinson (self-written)

On the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia. — W.C. Fields

For more famous epitaphs, visit Brain Candy Celebrity Quotes.

image of a dying dahlia flower

All this got me thinking. If I were to die today, what would I want written on my tombstone? Something pithy? Witty? Sappy? Something else that ends with -y?

Here lies Adan Ramie. We all knew she was a klutz.

Adan Ramie. Beloved best-selling author, parent, spouse, and friend.

She bled words onto a page for people she didn’t even know.

Another selfie casualty.

She shouldn’t have tried to punch that bear.

She sucked in a breath, then stopped.

Adan Ramie: Accursed writer. She had too many black cats.

Or, my favorite: Adan Ramie. All she was supposed to be.

image of two people dressed up for a Day of the Dead celebration

Original image credit to

Love spooky stories? Buy CrumblingHim and Her, and Inheritance today for three different kinds of creepy!

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