For as long as I can remember I have been totally creeped out at the thought of cemeteries and my body being buried. My family has a generational tradition of placing flowers on family member’s gravestones each Memorial Day. As a little kid, I would dread it but knew that the donut at the end of the planting would make it worth it.
It isn’t that I am opposed to death because I am not. I am completely okay with the process of death and find it to be a beautiful experience. It is the burying part. I have been very vocal that when I die I want my ashes to be spread in my favorite hiking spots and not my body buried. My opinion about burying a body has been voiced over and over, and I realize now almost to the point of sounded far too harsh for those who do choose this.
Again, I have found that it is those strongly voiced opinions, and perhaps even judgments, that come back in a strong ah-ha teachable moment.
Across the street from one of my facilities is a century old cemetery. It is beautiful and expansive with rolling hills and old, old trees. Each week I have a break in my day when the clients each lunch and I have about an hour to myself. Leading up to my recent hip surgery I had a commitment to walk twice a day to prepare my mind, body and spirit.
During these silent walks where the peace is palpable, I have witnessed the tender care of an elderly spouse tending to his beloved’s grave. have watched burials and the sacred ceremony. I have seen wind chimes and toys left for the babies who have been taken too soon. I have spent time in the section reserved only for priests. I have discovered graves from 1895. I have stored hundreds of names in my mind. I have even stumbled upon my grandparents!
I have come to absolutely love my time in the cemetery and I have had a complete shift in my opinion regarding what happens to my body when I die. I have not changed my post-death wishes entirely, but I have decided that the sacred act of burying my ashes with a memorial headstone is exactly what my soul wants when the time comes.
The symbol of a life well lived and place for my loved ones to come honor.