Day of the Dead: A look at mortality in the U.S.

Day of the Dead: A look at mortality in the U.S.

The Day of the Dead celebration is this week, so we look at death in the U.S.

It’s a dead woman’s party

The origins of Day of the Dead trace back a few hundred years to an Aztec festival that honored their goddess of the dead, Mictecacihuatl. The Aztec party lasted a month. But the Catholic Church shrunk it to a couple of days, coinciding with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, usually the first two days of November.

You can learn more about Day of the Dead customs and celebrations here.

All Souls’ Day

Family and friends decorate altars with offerings such as candles, flowers, photos and meaningful memorabilia. It is believed that on this day, loved ones return from their eternal sleep to celebrate with their family and friends.

A look at mortality in the U.S.

2.92 million: Average annual deaths in U.S. from 2016-2020. Preliminary data for 2022 estimates 3.2 million deaths.

77 years: The life expectancy in the U.S. in 2020. Life expectancy for women was 80.2 and 74.5 for men.


It could be costly

Here are some average 2023 funeral prices for a viewing calculated by the National Funeral Directors Association of America:

Partial list:

Casket $2,500

Basic services fee $2,300

Embalming (some funeral homes may require you to pay for this, if you plan to hold a viewing) $775

Use of facilities $515

Transportation of remains $350

Hearse $350

Preparation of the body $275

Printed materials Memorial package and guest book $183

How most people die

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans aged 1-44 years old.

The leading causes of death for unintentional injury include: poisoning (drug overdoses), motor vehicle, drowning and falls.

You can see the 10 leading causes of death by age group at the CDC here.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Census, National Center for Health Statistics

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