Grave Goods and the Grieving Process

Something happened this week that took me away from my ‘nowadays’ life and planted me firmly back into grief. I’ve been trying to make these blog posts about writing and uni and the creative process, because that’s really what my life is about. But something happened at the cemetery where my daughter is buried this week, and because that is also what my life is about, and because the experience of the death of my daughter, has shaped my life, my thought processes and my creative process, it’s important to talk about that too. I’ll try and keep it brief.


Every birthday and Christmas since we lost our daughter, my husband and I have agonised over what to take to the grave to remember her. She was a baby, would be a child now and whilst I don’t imagine her playing about the headstones or sitting in a tree, cherub like, as many parents imagine their children, I do imagine her going back into the earth and helping the earth. Therefor I bring things like insect houses, and bird baths and sometimes other things, this year it was a lovely white wreath for Christmas, because it looks pretty with the pink roses and because I want her little grave to be pretty. I get anxious if I don’t visit her grave and tidy it and lay flowers and bring little gifts. I don’t feel anxious once I have done that. It’s about doing the best for her, as her mum, because the sis the only place I can do things for her, practical things, as a mum would.  We have a little fence around her grave, because I can’t bear the thought of people stepping on her, or a lawnmower going over the top of her. This may well seem odd to other people, I can’t tell anymore what is and isn’t odd when one is considering the burial place of a child. In ancient times people put things in the grave with their children, like this incredible twin burial with it’s mammoth shoulder bone: Twin burial which, while I don’t know in any factual or scientific extent,  I am certain will have been put there to protect those two little babies. They may have marked the graves, left flowers and food, offerings too, but we’ll never know. These days we certainly do. Be it flowers, planted shrubs or as in the case of the cemetery where my daughter is buried, and all the cemeteries in the UK, we leave toys, wind chimes, wind mills, decorated stones, things that mean something to us, things that show the world that the baby or the child is not forgotten. The instinct to parent doesn’t end at death. You will know, if you have lost a child, the utter misery that is knowing they are alone in the cemetery, in the cold and the dark without anyone there to offer comfort. That instinct is strong. And it’s why people leave solar powered lights on the graves. After I’d seen the sign, I found this article: Scarborough news in which a councillor describes the cemetery as ‘like a disco there are that many LED lights flashing. It looks like a night rave.’

I can’t decide which hurt more, the prioritising of the appearance of the cemetery over the personal need to grieve, or the article which was insensitive to the point of painful. There doesn’t seem to have been any empathetic approach to this, which really saddens me.  What I do know is that I went home and I cried for three days wondering if someone had been on my daughter’s grave, measuring the distance between headstone and grave edge, touching her things without my permissions, judging us on whether our method of grieving fell within the parameters of their rules or not. It hurt.

I’ve made this petition, it’s to bring to attention that this is not the best way to go about  this, and to make it plain that grieving parents are still parents, that the lack of empathy and understanding over the individual needs of grieving people in general needs to be addressed. Please do sign it and share it if you can.

Petition on Grave Items

Thanks x


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