More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Visiting the Cemetery with a Child

I chose to revisit the 250-acre Mount Olivet Cemetery yesterday—the same day my Aunt Kat died. How timely. The trip was pre-planned since it was an assignment for the class I’m taking on death, dying, and bereavement and has to be turned in today. I took my 8-year-old grandson, Sidney, with me to get a child’s perspective on this assignment as well as introduce him to the concept of death.

I broke the news of Kat’s death to Sidney as we were driving to the cemetery. I was amazed at the insight this loving soul provided about his belief in the afterlife that he calls the Life Stream. I asked him to describe it and he said it is a large swirling circle that never ends. It has a green mist and sometimes the shapes of bodies can be seen in it. I asked him where it is located and he said, “deep within the earth.” He also said it gets colder as you get deeper into the ground.

Mount Olivet Cemetery has no formal or planned layout in the older section. The gravel roads wind and twist randomly throughout the monuments. It seems that families bought a section of land and were allowed to inter arbitrarily—facing all directions in unevenly spaced patterns. However, in one section, all the graves were in neat rows with consistent head and foot markers. At first I thought this might have indicated that these were newer sites common to the Resurrection of Death period (1945 to present), but those graves were just as old as the others. Noticing how simple and small the markers were, I now believe this must have been the more economical lots offered for sale during the late 1800s. Those graves are closer together and more uniform—all facing the same direction—still allowing for the expression of individuality if the family could afford it.

Sidney was very interested in the monuments we saw at Mount Olivet in Nashville and asked a lot of questions and gave a lot of input. “Here’s another one with an angel, Von-Von. Look, another cross! They believed in Jesus.”

Knowing how costly some of these ornate structures must have been shows me that not only was it important that a person’s social and financial status be remembered, it was also important that the person’s individuality be expressed. This is not the case in the newer section of Mount Olivet where every identical bronze marker is recessed into the ground. It looks like a mowed field with fake flowers in urns every six to eight feet apart. Sidney liked the graves that expressed individuality—a true child of a baby boomer! He disliked the “boring” graves.

A body was been interred at the time we were there. Sidney did not want to approach that scene so I honored his wishes. I didn’t want to expose him to more than he was ready for. However, we did drive by the site once the family had left and the grave had been closed. I must have had some success at gently introducing him to the reality of death. Even after what he experienced today, he actually wants to attend Aunt Kat’s funeral even though I warned him that our family may be crying and very sad.

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