The students, staff, and parents of St. Mark's Episcopal School made this altar. The pan de muerto, bread baked for this holiday, is visible. Pictures of saints and of the dead can be seen. The elements are traditional, the form can be a means of creative expression. Often skeletons or skulls are included reminding us that death is always close and that it need not be feared.
Also acknowledged is the Mexica (Aztec) tradition that there are three deaths.
The first death is when our bodies cease to function; when our hearts no longer beat of their own accord.
The second death comes when the body is lowered into the ground.
The third death, the most definitive death, is when we are lost from memory.
Nothing can be done about the first two deaths. The last death is delayed by remembering those who came before.