Visiting a cemetery can be an uncomfortable experience for some. Confronting the concept of death and grieving the loss of dearly departed loved ones brings a plethora of complex emotions. As hard as this can be, working through these complex emotions is the key to greater spiritual and emotional healing. While comfort levels will depend on each individual and their situation, there are some things to keep in mind when visiting a cemetery that can help make the experience more peaceful. Keep reading to learn more.
There are no expectations
While movies, TV shows, and even those closest to us may talk about the emotional experience of visiting a cemetery, remember that how you handle the experience is entirely up to you. While some people may feel comfortable crying at the grave site, you may not– and that’s okay. Displaying (or not displaying) emotion is not an indication of how you felt for your loved one. For some, decorating the grave site might derive the most comfort. For others, simply sitting in silence is what’s best. It’s important to find what works for you. Don’t feel like you must act a certain way or do a certain activity when visiting. Just like your relationship with your loved one, each person will have a unique connection and way of communicating love and loss.
You are on sacred ground
Remember that cemeteries are sacred places. Catholic cemeteries are specifically blessed and are considered to be an extension of the church itself. While there’s no need to dress a certain way or say a specific prayer, use the sacredness of the grounds to enter into a meditative and spiritual mindset. While you’re loved ones may not be here physically to connect with, you can still maintain relationships with them through prayer.
You are in an open space
One important thing to remember when visiting a cemetery is that you’re likely not the only one visiting their loved ones. While it’s good to express yourself in a way that you feel comfortable, it’s also courteous to remember those around you. Playing loud music, shouting, or otherwise being disruptive may make visitation hard for others.
You will (most likely) be outdoors
Most burial choices (aside from those who choose to be interred in a mausoleum) will be outside. Plan ahead to make sure you’re wearing weather appropriate clothing. Also, due to the forces of nature and other outdoor elements, make sure to read safety signs. If you feel a path is dangerous for you to attempt, don’t. Check to see if the cemetery office provides escorts- they will be able to guide you to the burial site safely.
Take it all in
Sometimes visits can seem more like a chore than a genuine experience. It’s important when visiting to take a few moments to truly meditate and spend spiritual time with your loved one. Think about their life and the lasting impact they left on yours. Treasure the quiet time together and brief separation from the rest of the world.
Some people find consolation in praying near the grave site. A common prayer is:
“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”
However, prayer doesn’t need to be formal or rehearsed. Simply spending time in meditation can be healing on its own.
What do you find most helpful and comforting when visiting your loved ones? Let us know in the comments below.
Post written by Katie Karpinski