A Visit to My Son’s Grave
Just this past week I went from a day of remembering the death of our first born son to celebrating the life of our youngest granddaughter and to getting news of the death of someone important to my husband and myself. The extremes seem at first glance to be a study in contrasts. Yet, I am aware that for many, recognizing anniversaries of the death of our own family is often overlooked. And so in this line of thought, it is a study in omission.
When people we love die, our culture is not well prepared to support our grief. We have few reliable sources to discuss the possible outcomes for the choices we make as they relate to creating traditions about the memory of our deceased loved ones.
Here are a few reasons to create traditions for remembering Death Anniversaries:
- It creates a positive role model for others
- If we recognize the life and death of presidents and Martin Luther King Jr. each February and the military on Memorial Day, it makes sense to give honor to the one/s who are closest to our hearts on the anniversary of their death
- Taking time out once a year is an excellent way to reset our hearts and minds with clarity and refreshed perspective
- Overlooking that day and or the person who died minimizes our capacity for empathy and compassion towards others in their grief. It diminishes us as humans.
She fell to the ground
On March 1, I found myself sitting on the bench near the grave side of our precious 3 year old son, Dawson. I had picked some spring blossoms and brought them to leave there. I also visited a friend’s grandson’s grave, placing a few blossoms there as well. Before leaving the cemetery I sent a picture of his grave marker, wanting to reach out to her, as the anniversary of his death is in just a couple days.
Later that day, my friend called to let me know how the photo affected her. She said, “When I opened the text message and saw the picture, I fell to the ground.”
It had been 6 years since her sweet grandson’s death and she had avoided making a visit to the grave side or even talking to her son and daughter in law about her memories of this precious child. As we talked about her options and explored different ways to think about remembering the dead, she discovered new strength and determination to walk away from omission and into intentional action that would support her ongoing healing.
I couldn’t help but be doubly blessed as I drove the three hour trip back home that evening. I had spent quality time at the grave side of my son, writing and thinking about how important his life had been to me. I was able to share some of those thoughts on my Facebook page which I trust will be of help to others. But the biggest blessing was that I was there in a way that my friend needed. If I had omitted remembering my own son, I would not have been the one to encourage my friend to remember her grandson. This brief life experience has become a profound instructor for me. I hope it will be for you as well.
© Karen Nicola March 3 2016