The grief of loss doesn’t inter with our loved ones. It follows the living and makes its home with them. Instead peace and rest follow into the grave. That’s what we want for our departed-peace. It’s why we don’t inscribe out tombstones with “Rage, rage, into the dying of the light.” Instead we say “Be with God’. “Entered into Heaven” or the ubiquitous RIP.
When I was a child, our family had a plot in a small country graveyard. It was different then; families lived nearby and cared for the plots themselves. There would be perennial flowers planted, small shrubs and rows of lilac bushes. We would go on a weekend afternoon and tend the graves, water the flowers, weed the shrubbery and tidy generally. It would be a social occasion with thermoses of tea and a basket of sandwiches to follow when the work was done. I always enjoyed tripping around the walkways between plots, smelling the lilacs and inventing stories about the long buried people I had never met. I still find cemeteries great sources for research into names, relationships, a feel for times past. The only sadness I remember associated with the graves was the odd marker of a baby or a young child, a life that never got to be lived.
Now families have moved to larger centres and so have the graveyards. New cemeteries wear a polished sheen and are kept immaculate. No old markers crumble in forgotten corners. I think I prefer the old country graveyards with their sense of family and belonging.