Thursday, January 19, 2012

Simple Suggestion #107... Visit a cemetery

The funeral of a woman I've known for a long time took place last Friday. I went to school with June's youngest son, and we sat behind her and her husband at church for years. She loved to look around the church on a Sunday and make comments about anyone and anything, reminding me of a little kid who didn't know you weren't supposed to be so honest out loud! She was interested in everything, she was entertaining in her own right, and she was the kind of woman that I imagined would go on forever. It's hard to believe that her heart gave out, because her spirit was indomitable.

Seems like every year at about this time, someone that I know dies, and it shocks me. You'd think it wouldn't surprise me anymore, but it always does. I guess, with all that Christmas celebration out of the way and ordinary life back on my plate, it's easy to forget that life stops. I suspect that there's a "death denial gene" built into human collective consciousness that fools us into thinking that we'll all go on forever; that life will always be the way it is.

So it's really easy to get complacent, to forget that our lives are a gift, and that it's silly to try to store up a lot of stuff here, because WE CAN'T TAKE ANYTHING WITH US. That's why I like this Simple Suggestion. I'm not saying that we should get all morbid and dwell on our deaths or anything. I'm just saying that visiting a cemetery is a helpful reminder that we and our lives are not permanent, so it's a good idea to live as simply as we can, and to bless others while we're here. The people we leave behind honestly don't want to have to deal with a lot of stuff when we're gone. A cemetery is a quiet, peaceful place where we can think about the blessings we DO want to leave behind, and how we can leave the planet a better place than we found it.

Of course, I wouldn't visit a cemetery in this cold weather. I'd wait until it warms up a bit, take a mug of cocoa along, and walk among the gravestones. I'd read a few, because they all tell stories, and I love stories. Or I might wait for summer and go have a picnic at the grave of someone I knew. I'd like to go visit Bob or Mary, my old gardening buddies and neighbours, and maybe take a few of their flowers that now bloom in my yard, the legacies with which they blessed me. It's a nice way to befriend my mortality, to acknowledge the fact that life is temporary, and to remember that she who dies with the most toys still dies, so why bother with so many toys?

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.


  1. I find I'm always fighting with that death denial gene. I'm personally fascinated by death. Our thoughts,feelings and beliefs behind it. The actual mechanics of's the oddest thing. But yes...I don't want to go! At least not yet.

    My mum in law was going through her belongings in her mind, bequeathing stuff to me and her grandkids, getting quite anxious about it. I said Stop, I'll only want you when you die, not your stuff. She's a bit of a collector and now she's finding her things to be a burden. Living simply is really freeing. I hope my Mum can find a way to make peace with that and make her life easier,here in the now.

  2. What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing and my condolences at your loss. It sounds like she was a fun lady to know.

  3. Thank you, my friends, for your comments. "I'll only want you when you die, not your stuff," sums it up just about perfectly.

  4. I thank you for this posting. You write with a fine feeling for the power of remembrance. A cemetery is an exercise in keeping memory alive and preserving the love and affection of beloved men and women from falling away into forgetfulness.I go often, and find that every visit makes me more attentive to the forgetfulness I exercise everyday among the living as well.

  5. I'm happy to know that I'm not the only one who treasures a cemetery visit... there are just too many special people to keep alive in memory.


Take a minute and tell me what you think...