Sudden Cemetery Wondering

photo copy 7 Some people think of this as a grief blog, and sometimes it is.

That’s because I believe in grieving, it’s for read, a long road that must be traversed and not ignored.

I’m thankful to be a part of people’s grief journey and lately I’ve been wondering how I can best do that.

Should I do a grief related post, once a week?  Because it’s not the only reason I write now but it IS a big part of the reason I started writing.

So I guess I could do a day week devoted to grieving.  I could ask other writers to chime in, If you’re a regular here, what are you thoughts?

For today though, it’s a grief related day…

For past month I’ve found myself thinking on the same question: Why do we go to the cemetery?  

This thought process started when we were in Michigan for Christmas.  I was out running some errands for my family (by myself!) and I found myself driving down the street that houses the cemetery where all my family is buried.

As I wound down the street I felt a sudden, pressing need to visit my parent’s gravesite.

So I flipped on my turn signal, changed lanes and turned left into the cemetery. The roads were still a little icy from the hard, overnight freeze and in my haste, I could have easily spun out.

I slowly navigated the hilly cemetery paths, straight, then left, then left again until I stopped our van next to my parent’s headstone.

I laid my head down on the steering wheel and took a deep breath as the memories of their committal services projected themselves on the screen of my mind.

The velvet covered chairs, the tents meant to shield us from the cold March and October weather.

My Brother playing “Be Thou My Vision” on the trumpet.

My uncle reading scriptures over the open graves

The snow melting in my ballet flats.

The flowers we threw onto the wood and white lids

The caskets slowly lowered

The confused “now what” mingling after all was said and done… but not quite.

I remember being told over and over again not to feel attached to those bodies, the ones we laid down in that cold Michigan soil.  I remember trying desperately to take comfort in the fact that their true selves, their souls were free and far away.

But… we’re allowed to be sentimental about a home, only the shell that houses a family.  We’re allowed to be attached to our wedding rings, only the symbol of our marriage vows.  Then it stands to reason that we would be attached to those bodies which housed the souls we loved, doesn’t it?

And I was attached to those bodies, I missed their warmth and the life behind their eyes.  They were the way in which I felt my parents love, the way their souls were showcased to me every day of my life.

I was attached.  And much of the reason I return to the cemetery lies in this attachment.  

Some of us visit gravesides often, we sit and chat, we cry, we wonder and remember.  And then some of us never go at all, we can’t bear the monument of all we’ve lost, we prefer to remember the dead through memories and photographs.

When I make my visits to the cemetery, I always find myself feeling nervous and awkward.  Should I catch them up on what’s going on with me?  Should I bring a letter, fresh flowers?

I want them to know that they’re loved, cherished and missed so deeply.

But my parents are Redeemed and free, they stand in need of nothing.  Surely the lost benefit nothing from our visits.

So the reason we go must lie within us, within our “still here, still human” attempts at wholeness and healing.

We all take different paths on our grieving journeys, there is no right way to go about it, so long as you keep going.

So I know it’s tender and perhaps and I understand if you’d rather not, but.. why do you go to the cemetery?  What do you do?  Does it help?  Would you share?

(should I do more dedicated grief-related posts….?)

  • SFriant

    Grief may change, but it never goes away. Your gift of writing will help others on their journeys. I led a Service of Light in December, honoring, lifting up and speaking of all the grief those who were there had. We lit candles, shared communion. Even those who thought they had come to support others, or came just to help out, found themselves confronting their grief – even if long buried. May God bless you as you continue on your path and find your way.

    • Trina

      Since my grandmother passed in June, every time I make the trip to Ohio I feel like I HAVE to go to the cemetery to see her. Catch her up, let her know what’s going on, tell her how much I miss her and how much my heart aches to see her again. I have never taken flowers, mainly because I stop on my way into town and I’ve been driving for three hours…but also…I feel like it’s just something else that’s going to die. The first time I went back I cried the ugly cry and told her I just wanted her here with me. At that moment a butterfly landed on my left shoulder and I felt sooo at peace. She loved butterflies and that’s one of the designs she chose to have on her head stone. All of my visits to Ohio were to see her so even still I have to stop and see her. I feel better when I do because she was the only one ever that I could talk to about anything and everything. That’s now the only way I still can.

      Thank you for all the writing you do, I think it’s just as much therapy for your readers as it is for you. Blessings to you and your beautiful family.

      • leannepenny

        Wow to your story Trina. I absolutely loved reading that, what a gift!

        • Annette Skarin (@carinskarin)

          Thank you Leanne for this post. My aunt just passed away and it hit me hard. She’s the only relative I had left from my mother’s immediate family. I wrote a long comment but decided to process my grief through a post instead. Grief sneaks up like a dark day and sits on top of you, till you can’t breathe. Some day I will sneak up on it and use it to my advantage.

          • leannepenny

            I pray that you do! Grief is like a sneaky ninja, that’s my favorite metaphor, sneaks up and takes you down.

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          • leannepenny

            Welcome! and Thank you!!