Sin Llorar: A Death Doula's Playlist for Folks of the Andean Diaspora
This August 2022 was my Awichu’s 2nd Death Anniversary - I never publicly shared what his life, death, and our relationship meant to me and how much it all impacted me. His death abruptly woke me up to my purpose. The night he died I was so distraught I couldn’t physically be there by his side (I was always supposed to be there but we were freshly into the pandemic and I was based in CA and his death was so short notice that it just didn’t make sense for me to emergency travel to Bolivia). So in his final moments I wrote him a long heartfelt letter to soothe him and ease his transition into death - I didn’t know it then but I was intuitively death doula-ing even from such a long distance. I also didn’t realize it then, but I sort of wrote his eulogy through that letter even though there wasn’t ever a space or time to honor his eulogy publicly.
Two years later, I finally felt ready to honor my Awichu’s life and death by publicly reading this letter out loud to all of the guests my family invited to his 2 year Catholic mass death anniversary. It was a last minute decision so no one knew I was going to read this eulogy until the day of. As the priest finished the mass and left the podium and I gathered myself to head up to the podium, my tío was like, “Sin llorar, no?” I pretended not to hear him and just chuckled to myself - and he said it again a little louder, “Sin llorar, no?” To which I just stared at him with a big smile. And I prefaced the eulogy with a caution: “I will most definitely cry as I read this - you might be inspired to cry - and if that’s the case, then just let the tears, energy, and medicine flow through you.”
Sin llorar is a message and cultural value that gets indoctrinated into us since we’re children - and the very act of withholding and repressing your tears and emotions is most likely the spiritual root of most of the physical illnesses, diseases and bodily ailments all humans suffer from. Can you imagine trying to contain the ocean - or putting up a dam to stop the flow of water at Niagara or Iguazú Falls? It's unnatural to try to contain, control, and withhold the flow and force of natural bodies of water - and human bodies are just that - we are all natural bodies of water - we are an ocean of emotions - an emocean, if you will.
It goes without saying that the cultural value, “sin llorar” stems from machismo and toxic masculinity. But let’s unpack that a little bit more. Machismo and toxic masculinity come from the wounding of the divine masculine - the divine masculine was wounded by the harmful effects of colonization.
Way back in the day way before colonization our ancestors had an intuitive understanding and valuing of embodying divine feminine and divine masculine energies regardless of what body (ie. sexual organs) you were born into. They culturally valued and knew that the Divine Feminine powers of emotional and intuitive intelligence were sacred gifts to be revered. To cry, weep, wail, or lament was not seen as weak or awkward or embarrassing - it was known and respected as strength, power, and divine. That is why folks who had an intuitive embodied and balanced expression of both the Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine were often the sacred Two-Spirit Medicine People of their communities.
Back in the day before colonization, our ancestors had strong, vibrant, spiritual values and practices - our people were deeply spiritually grounded. But once colonization forcefully replaced our ancestral spiritual traditions and ways with organized religion - our families lost touch with Spirit. I mean, when you think about it, there were generations upon generations of our ancestors that experienced horrendous trauma because of colonization, which led to their soul-loss. Our ancestors lost touch with their spirits as well as with Great Spirit. And since all they had left to look up to was the organized religions allowed by the colonizers - they no longer had access to the Medicine People who knew how to reconnect our ancestors to Great Spirit - who knew how to heal and retrieve the lost parts of their souls.
So the ancestors who experienced the harmful effects of colonization first-hand gave birth to and raised the next generation of ancestors with wounded and imbalanced masculine and feminine energies. And so the wounded and imbalanced masculine and feminine energies within our ancestors kept getting passed on and on until someone in the lineage says, “Ya basta! This shit ends with me!”
Since we live in a patriarchal society practically ALL humans regardless of sex or gender have heavier wounded (toxic) masculine energies within them. Inviting and allowing Divine Feminine energies to bring you into balance and healing is difficult, uncomfortable, and can be terrifying. Music and sound is one of the most powerful tools and medicine that allows me to release energy that no longer serves me and brings my body, mind, heart, and spirit back into balance. If you have a desire to invite the Divine Feminine healing energies into your heart and spirit so that you can release and cleanse through tears but need support to do so - then checkout this playlist I curated to help induce a weeping release for folks of the Andean diaspora.
As people of the Andean diaspora, many of us carry deep separation and disconnection wounds to our Andean roots and one way to soothe and heal those wounds is to reconnect to our Andean roots through music. I also created this playlist for folks of the Andean diaspora who may already feel pretty connected and in tune with their Andean roots and culture but who may still be carrying grief due to any personal losses they’ve recently experienced. My point is, we all have grief we need to release regardless of the origins and reasons for our grief. And we all need help accessing and releasing our sorrow and grief - especially through tears. So this playlist is a healing and spiritual resource for any and all folks, but particularly for my siblings of the Andean diaspora.
Some of the songs on this playlist deliver medicine through their lyrics, melodies, rhythms, or all three in one. Maybe the messages from the lyrics don’t apply to you but the melodies/rhythms are what resonate with the sorrow or grief in your heart - so let the medicine carry that stuck energy out of your body. And even though some of the songs are in Quechua or Aymara and you may not understand what they’re saying (or hey! even if it’s hard to understand the songs in Spanish) - it may also be a very healing and soothing practice to learn and sing the songs in our mother tongues, karaoke style.
Whether or not we understand the language is irrelevant - because the language of music is universal. Plus, our people tend to make some of the most beautiful, soothing, and cathartic medicine music - so even if you're not used to listening to Andean music or connecting to our culture through music - this playlist and the songs I specifically curated are meant to induce a cathartic emotional release. And on my personal healing journey I’ve found that when I listen to these songs there is profound grief and sorrow that arises - sometimes I can pinpoint that those emotions are mine and is the grief I carry for the separation and longing I feel towards my cultural roots. And other times that grief and sorrow actually belongs to my ancestors and it’s their profound love and gratitude that they can feel me connecting with them and our cultural roots through music.
I find it ironic that the lyrics in some of these songs contribute to “sin llorar” - our cultural value of suppressing our tears - yet the melodies and tones/vibrations communicated through the singing and musical instruments clearly invite and inspire our bodies to release our sadness, sorrow, melancholy, grief, and pain through tears. So if you need a good-ass cry and your inner child just needs a safe and nonjudgmental space to chillar until their heart and spirit feels settled - then here are my recommendations to support yourself in your healing practice and work.
Set aside some uninterrupted alone time - about 2-4 hours or more if you’d like. Set up a comfortable and private space - where you can cry as loud and as long as you might need to. Set up comfy pillows on a comfy rug or mat with a blanket. Light a candle or as many as you’d like. Light some incense. Have a big bottle of water - maybe coconut water or something else with electrolytes. Maybe you have pictures or mementos of a person, place, or thing that you’re missing and grieving in this season - bring those and just have them present with you.
Then find a comfy position to just lay, sit, or BE. Then listen to the playlist. It might be helpful to connect the music to a speaker - I like to play my music loud enough so that my llantos can be semi-covered by the music LOL.
This is a meditative practice where your entire awareness goes into the music - you listen and feel into the melodies, rhythms, lyrics, voices, all the medicine coming through all that sound. It might be helpful to read along with the lyrics - just google search them and follow along while the music plays - maybe that’ll feel distracting or unhelpful to you - so just do what feels good for you. But I highly suggest NO multitasking - 100% undivided attention to the music - and if it inspires you to cry and release your emotions then guess what? The medicine is working and you have allowed the Divine Feminine energies to wash over your body and spirit to cleanse and release all that heavy emotion that was weighing on you. Stay with those cleansing waters until your body feels done. Hydrate before, during, and after. And when you’re done, burn some incense, clean up your space, go take a shower or bath, and have some tea or eat something nourishing. Just rest, maybe write in your journal, call a loved one for connection, watch something funny, or spend time with a pet - do something soothing and uplifting because you just put in spiritual WORK.
I also want to clarify that this playlist isn’t exclusively for folks of the Andean diaspora - it just may hit and resonate deeply within their hearts and spirits more. This playlist may definitely feel like medicine and bring a cathartic release to any being regardless of their cultural background - so, feel free to share this resource with anyone you feel may benefit from this Andean medicine music. Aaand, this list of songs isn’t exhaustive! There are many, many more Andean medicine songs to support us in our emotional release - so, if you have any favorites that help you induce your spiritual llantos and you don’t see them on this playlist, please share the love and send them my way!
Ok, so without further ado, I present to you A Death Doula’s Playlist for Folks of the Andean Diaspora.
Awichu - abuelo, grandpa
"Sin llorar, no?" - "You're not going to cry, right?"
sin llorar - don't cry or without crying
"ya basta!" - "enough!"
chillar - to wail
llantos - cries (noun)