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Sugar House Journal

Dia de los Muertos in Sugar House

Dec 08, 2015 13h53 ● By Bryan Scott

By Elizabeth Suggs

Sugar House - The Sharing Place, a grief counseling center, and the Sugar House Chamber of Commerce worked together to start Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, On Oct. 24.

Dia de los Muertos is the day, according to Gaylon Hasson, office manager at the Sharing Place, to remember the dead. Because of this, Hasson believes what the day of the dead means fits with the company’s goals: to support and honor those have dealt with a loss. 

“It fits in for what we do. There are memories and lots of sadness,” Hasson said. “Grief doesn’t have a timeline.” 

The Sharing Place is for group support. Rather than deal with the grief and sadness immediately, and then be finished with it after a certain period of time, like what could happen with individual counseling or therapy, according to Hasson, the Sharing Place is for anyone hurting at any time, even if the death of a loved one happened years before. 

“One reason we don’t usually care for those hurting immediately after a death is because they usually can’t feel,” Hasson said. “The pain is usually numb.” 

Greg Gage, Owner of Black Cat Comics, has been with the company both officially and unofficially for nearly eight years. Last year, he was part of the committee for Dia de los Muertos. According to Gage, there isn’t enough being done to cater to places for grief support, like the Sharing Place, in Utah. 

“Most people don’t treat grief personally,” Gage said. “They treat it clinically.”

One way the Sharing Place has tried to bring a more personal touch to grief support is through silent auction with “love baskets,” an activity that replaced last year’s market. According to Hasson, love baskets, which are compiled of various knick knacks, pictures and even stories, were made to represent a deceased loved one. 

“It gives an opportunity for people to get together and get their story out,” Hasson said. “[The love baskets] are very diverse, very memorable.”

The silent auction was just one of many other activities. Unlike last year’s event, which welcomed all ages, because of the location and the types of available activities, the event was only for those 21 years or older. 

While the Sharing Place primarily focuses on children and their families dealing with grief, Hasson and others part of the organization process thought it made more sense to be an older aged event. 

Other activities at the event included skull candy face painting, tarot card readers, salsa dance lessons and more. Bars were littered around the event, and Red Iguana catered food.

“[Dia de los Muertos] gives a more positive upbeat feeling,” Gage said. “We’re celebrating the life people gave.” 

Hasson agreed with Gage, but being part of the Sharing Place hasn’t always been easy or carefree. Sometimes, according to Hasson, it’s heartbreaking. 

“The worse part of my job is getting a call from a family where death just occurred and listening to the mom struggle to get words out because she’s crying, and then she’s apologizing for crying,” Hasson said. “But those families will smile again. Love and laugh again. Those days will come.”