Funerals in Mexico

Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and fellow business major.  He is a sophomore at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  His family is from Mexico.  He has moved around both Mexico and the U.S., spending significant time in Illinois.  He currently lives in Southern California.


Context: I was interviewing Stan about folk beliefs and traditions that he has been exposed to.  He shared with me the characteristics of Mexican funerals.


Item: “Um, funerals really depend and vary from person to person and family to family.  The range of emotion is very great.  Everything is acceptable.  Hispanic people are very expressive with feelings: wailing, yelling, screaming, and, pounding on the casket (in Colombia) are all acceptable ways of expressing yourself.  There’s no real, like, ‘you have to act in a certain way,’ as long as you have respect for the dead.  One can grieve however they see fit.  Most of the time, there is a casket and subsequent burial.  Husbands get buried next to their wives, and, wealthier people sometimes have mausoleums.


People who leave Mexico like to come back to be buried there.  Like, there was this famous Mexican song about this whole thing: Mexico my beloved, if I happen to die away from you, let them tell everyone that I am just sleeping till I come back”.


Informant Analysis: The family unit is really important in Mexico.  Religion is also important.  People always get anointed on the death bed as holy rituals are extremely important.  Your final moments and this tradition are important for the person to pass away with a clear conscience and be ready for final judgment.


Analysis: Death in Mexico is treated a little bit differently than here in the U.S.  Mexico has more of a tradition of being more open with the topic and treatment of death, seen with the Day of the Dead ritual, in which people celebrate the lives of their ancestors instead of grieving about their passing.  This is shown in the relative openness of grieving behaviors and emotions as compared to the accepted morbid mood that is expressed at U.S. funerals.


The significance of the song is that Mexican people have strong national and ethnic pride.  Even if they have left their native land, they still feel a strong connection to their true “home” and never forget their roots and heritage.  This is shown in their desire to have their final resting place be in the land of Mexico, being buried next to their family and closest partner.