Thursday, October 15, 2015

Lessons from the Cemetery

       My mind still talks to you.
       My heart still looks for you.
       My soul is not yet convinced you are not coming back.

Dear Family and Friends,

Our family was never in the habit of visiting the graves of family that had gone on before. So it has been a new experience for me. The cemetery where Carol is buried is close, just a couple of minutes away and across the street from the grocery store where I shop. I have found myself dropping by a couple of times a week….just to talk, tell her I miss her.

Carol made a friend at the community church we attended the last couple of years. We always sat in the same section at church. Her friend no longer attends the community church but she regularly leaves a potted plant by Carol's grave marker. I make it a point to care and water the plants she leaves.

Sundays are a good day to visit the cemetery. Many people come by to pay their respects to a loved one. Because of the draught in California the cemetery has stopped watering the grass. The lawns have all died except for a few here and there where the loved ones engineer some way to get water on their loved ones grave. I watched an old gentlemen carefully tend his loved one's grave site, raking it by hand to remove the leaves and twigs. And then carefully watering the flowers and grass. A beautiful site of green and color among the sea of brown.

I don't know what triggers it, but once in a while, not often, I have a vivid memory of watching Carol take her last breaths. In response, my mind just says, "No, no, no, no, no nooooo!" My mind tries to push the memory away. So some of my trips to the cemetery are to convince myself that it really happened…she did die.  I stand beside her grave thinking, "OK, it really did happen. There is the grave marker." Strangely, the cemetery has a reality that helps me find my way back into life.

Which brings me to the reality of you, the people in my life. I have written about things that are hard, one of which is going out and being social. That I have to gear up for it. At first, it is hard but it does get better. You may think you don't want to put me through the pain of socializing but there is something that is harder than being social, and that is grieving alone…loneliness is far worse. So never hesitate to invite or drop by for a visit. When we are together there is a sort of tacit understanding between us of recognition that Carol is not here and we miss her, but we are here. We don't need to talk about it. Just being and doing things together is helping me experience the reality of relationships without Carol. You, the living, are helping me find my way back into life.

Another part of finding my way back into life is the slow turning from self focus to other focus. Individualism and self focus is so much a part of our culture.  We live in the illusion that we are in control. I so much wanted to fix Carol's situation. I want God to fix my situation. These are not the paths I would have chosen for us. Instead, I saw Carol walk with God, drawing closer and closer. I suspect she wanted to be closer to God than to be fixed. Carol's focus is found in Psalm 104:33, NRSV.

         "I will sing to the Lord as long as I live,
          I will sing praise to my God while I have being."

May that become true for you and me.

Until next time, grace to you ….. George

Go to for links to:
        Carol's Memorial,
        George's Blog and
        Kelly's Blog

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