It can be comforting to tend a loved one's final resting place. Whether you visit and tidy up on special occasions, or make a seasonal ritual of it, changing the décor or cleaning up the site on your own can become a time of both remembrance and healing. These tips can help you make the most of this tradition.
Tip #1: Choose the Right Marker
The type of marker you choose can lend itself to a ritual of ongoing visitation. There are markers that come with built-in vases, encouraging the frequent addition of bouquets of blooms. Alternatively, you can choose a marker with a built-in hook, so you have a place to hang wreaths, photographs, and other memorial items. There are even digital "QR" codes that you can have inscribed on the marker, which will allow you to use a smart phone or tablet to leave messages or memories on a site dedicated to your loved one each time you visit.
Tip #2: Create a Ritual
Although you should definitely visit family graves when you feel moved to do so, setting up traditional times of visitation can help the grieving remember the recently departed, or help instill your family's heritage into your children and grandchildren.
Plan to visit on important days, such as the holidays, the departed's birthday, or an anniversary date. If you visit several family graves, such as for memorial day or before the Easter holidays, then create a ritual that includes everyone, even if they weren't old enough to remember the departed. For example, a graveside picnic, complete with sharing family stories and memories, can become a pleasant memory for the next generation.
Tip #3: Tidy Up
Tidying the gravesite can be cathartic, especially if your loss was recent. This gives you a chance to continue to care for your loved one even after they are gone. Bring a small garbage bag, a natural bristle brush, a mild detergent solution, and a towel. Gather old flowers and weathered memorials in the garbage bag. Then, spray down the marker with the mild detergent and scrub it gently with the brush to remove any dirt or soil from the engraving. The natural bristles and mild detergent is safe for most stones. Finally, rinse it with clear water and buff it to a shine with the towel. You can then add fresh flowers and memorials. Many cemeteries have compost piles available for you to dispose of the flowers as you leave.
For more information on gravesite care or funerals, go to http://www.elmwoodcaskets.com.