You may have read my recent post on leaving Rosemary or small pebbles when visiting a grave site. Continuing on the same theme, I thought I’d share some of the offerings I’ve noticed these past few years while walking my dog through the beautiful grounds of Mountain View Cemetery.
There is such a variety of grave markers to begin with… each cultural group seems to have its own style. Inscriptions vary widely, but share the brevity dictated by marker size. One of my personal favorites is the Victorian-era description of a widow as a “Relic”. But I digress…
With respect to offerings left at graves, I’ve seen:
- Every flower under the sun. Bouquets small and vast.
- Teddies (not recommended! Stuffies look so sad after rainfall.)
- Plastic toys, soothers, jewelry,
- Photographs, sometimes framed
- Candles (I love it when I find these still burning)
- Food, paper money, and paper furniture in the Chinese section
- Crosses, religious figurines, icons, crucifixes
- and the most perplexing of all… a gravesite that regularly has a bucketful of cigarette butts dumped on it. And often a small empty bottle of booze. Once a shot glass. I never seem to catch the visitor in the act… I’d love to know more.
Today I noticed two graves, side-by-side, with long stemmed fresh flowers standing on end around the markers. Someone had inserted a sturdy wire into each flower stem and then speared them into the ground. Like a ring of flower-trees. It looked fabulous!
Cemeteries are wonderful places to walk and reflect on the beauty, the strength and the fragility of the human life. I love reading the inscriptions to learn about lives lived. Amazing the personality that can be described in just a few well chosen words.
Far from being scary places, cemeteries are a testament to our capacity and our desire to remember those we love.
On October 30th, Mountain View hosts their 5th Annual Night of All Souls. This is a public event for us to remember our dead in an atmosphere of contemplative beauty, with music, warming fires and fragrant teas to comfort the living. Candles, flowers and other materials are available for the creation of personal memorials that can be added to the public shrines throughout the cemetery.
Celebrant Michele Davidson