One of the lessons I have worked on with my middle school students is Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday that celebrates the life of someone who has passed on. Some people think it is their version of Halloween, or some kind of Satanic worship. It is neither of these. Flickering Lights, Day of the Dead is a great video which explains the holiday and its traditions. I include a writing component where the students explain who the person was, what they meant to the world at large and what the deceased meant to the student.
Artwork generated from this holiday is amazing- it is colorful and full of life. They embrace the memory of the deceased and celebrate their life. Losing someone may be the most difficult experience we have, but if we can go through the pain and remember them for the impact they had, we honor them.
A wonderful book that has accessible art projects is Day of the Dead Crafts by Kerry Arquette, Andrea Zocchi and Jerry Vigil. It has colorful, step by step directions to make very cool Day of the Dead crafts.