I was told by several individuals this week that today is the official cemetery cleanup day for their respective family plots. Old community cemeteries with people gathering around 150 year old headstones. Apparently this is a really big deal with reunions and BBQs going on as part of the celebration.

My first thought was, “What a pain in the butt!” Why would someone ever want to do something like that?

Cleaning up a cemetery is not on my list of fun things to do. Taking photographs in them? Yes. I enjoy that immensely. Blogging about them? Sure. Mowing around headstones? Not so much. Hell, I pretty much hate cleaning and mowing no matter where they are done!

But each of these people spoke of the events with such joy and enthusiasm and reverence, referencing all of the stories they get to hear about their ancestors from the old-timers.

“Oh you’re so and so’s grandkid? Let me tell you about the time…”

So, as I thought about it, I felt sad. Sad that I don’t have a place like that to go back to, that I have lost that tie to my past. What a gift it is to have that bit of anchor in a world so full of crazy…


77 thoughts on “Stoned

  1. Never heard of this celebration before. I wish you had some of that link to the past as well. (My job is physical enough, I’m not too interested in the cleaning up the cemetery gig either) but I have just within the past could of years gotten interested in my family roots, and fortunately, for me, live not too many miles from several generations worth. Is there any way you could re-connect with either your mom’s side of the family or your dad, as feisty as he sometimes is w/ you? 😉 You may have some dear, great long lost aunt who would love to hear from you…just a thought.

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  2. If you want to find yourself amazed in a cemetery check out the Great War memorial cemeteries in Belgium. I live near Amsterdam and have grown up with monuments and museums.

    The Great War cemeteries inspired me to remember the poem that starts with “In Flanders fields the poppies grow…” Death is more than passing on. Death has inspired reminders of what makes people human, virtuously and viciously.

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  3. Old cemeteries are great for reminiscing and scaring little kids, but they also seem like a waste of real estate. I prefer the cremation and scattering option. However, my wife’s family has a plot full of their dead ancestors, and that’s where my wife has decided my final resting place will be. Not sure I’m for that, because some of those ancestors were lunatics. But what choice do I really have? Maybe I should ask that my headstone be shaped like a barbecue pit.

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  4. Speaking of grave sites, if you are ever in Paris you must see Pere Lachaise. Look for Chopin’s tomb stone. It is a statue of a young woman and there are love letters strewn all around.

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  5. Wow..Talk about connecting with your past ! There is something very comforting about cemetery visits; in your hometown, you can see the names that represent all the families from your childhood.

    It’s so nice that you have family photos in your clinic..but Great Grandma might not be amused ! ☺

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  6. I’ll try to write this post without swearing.
    I am the only family member left here, since my mother left the state in 2003. I moved away in 2006 and returned in 2013. The first winter I was home, my mother wanted me to make or have made “Christmas blankets” for my grandparents’ graves. Cost varies, but either way is expensive. Add to that the hour drive there, the cold, the snow, the hour drive back…
    I resent being left to deal with this, and I said so. It didn’t get done for 7 years and I’m done doing it.
    My other grandparents are in a nearby mausoleum and require nothing. THEY’RE NOT THERE, EITHER.
    If grave sites were used to connect to the living, as with spring clean written above, it might be something to look forward to. How nice for those people.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds somewhat like the Dia de los Muertos tradition of Mexico (and other countries). Since my other half is Mexican, this is something we celebrate here in the U.S so that the heritage is passed to our daughter. We actually do visit my mom’s grave and clean up a bit around it, leave flowers…orange marigolds. We are the only ones ever there….ever (that I see anyways and I visit often) doing clean-up. I know there are “staff” that tend to it. But something about my mom’s place getting the extra touch and personal care given with love makes it really important to me. I find it joyful and healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I never heard of this before. Interesting. Personally, I think we should all be buried anonymously as fertilizer, cremated or left as offerings for predatory animals, but I am sure this is not the majority view.

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  9. We have several cemeteries around here that are built as parks and gorgeous. I love going to shoot pictures in Mt. Hope Cemetery. It is very beautiful. Used be the thing to do back in the day. Sunday picnic in the cemetery with grandma and pops.It is a cultural thing here as some people still go to the cemetery ever week. My old in-laws, who were from Poland, did that.
    Me, cook me, grind me up and throw me in The River. That’s my plan.

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  10. Call me creepy, but I always loved walking around the old cemeteries, thinking about the folk buried there, whether I knew them or not. Recently, at my father’s grave, I looked over all the family plots. I saw my grandparents, great-grandparents, many aunts, uncles and cousins. There was a permanence to it that isn’t derived from cremation. Not to be forgotten. Eternally at rest. I’m in home in Florida now, but google earthed my mother’s cemetery plot in GA, and there she was, where she’s been since 1969. There was something comforting about that, and the fact that she’s not sitting in an urn on the mantel of some estranged sister.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I never heard of this, either but… I like it. I sometimes wonder about old graves, the ones where no one visits. Then I get into moods. No one will visit my parents’ graves or my sisters’. For pretty good reasons. So I get all sniffly about why didn’t I get to have the close-knit family where people actually have stories, etc.

    I’ve thought about adopting a random grave, where I’d visit and sit and bring a flower or something. Maybe on an old grave that has lost its markings. My life hasn’t been such where this is either do-able or a particularly good idea, considering my mind set, but… I dunno. Random act of kindness to a dead person?

    I want one of those new Japanese pods that you get shoved into and the thing is one big tree seed.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I never heard about it in this way and my initial reaction reaction was similar to yours but when you think about it, there really is something special about the connection here. Interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: My Article Read (5-2-2015) | My Daily Musing

  14. Had not heard of this… interesting. I dreamt once about a man playing radios on tombstones, all dialed to the same station. I don’t know what that means.

    In my culture, it’s burn baby burn. No cemetery plots for those who have reentered the atmosphere.

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  15. My cousin, who lost her father when she was 10, and her mother when my cousin was in her 40s, goes to their graves almost every Sunday. She and her brother plant flowers, trim the area. The next generation, and the next goes too. It is the site where most of my mother’s side of the family is buried. Nearby, a few rows over, is where my two aunts from my Dad’s side are buried. I visited my maternal aunt and uncle at successive funerals, but it is 7 hours away, so not someplace I visit often or without a good (?) reason. Still it is peaceful, and quite lovely. It is located where they were born, lived, and died.

    My parents, on the other hand, moved to Florida. They are buried in the tackiest cemetery on the planet. Gravestones are all flat, all identical. There is no spirituality to be found there. I wrote about it in an early blog post: . So if I’m not out cleaning up the grounds for Mom & Dad, well, there’s a good reason!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I like the idea of getting turned into compost and bone meal and being planted under a new tree. I think that would be a lovely tradition for corpses, and still give families a place to visit. Perhaps entire forests to visit.

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  17. I spent a year in Korea last year. What a fascinating culture. So much based on their reverence (almost worship – and for some actual worship) of ancestors. They take such good care and have such respect for elders (and deceased) it was humbling compared to our normal attitude in America.

    Liked by 1 person

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