Chapter 10: Memorials and Headstones

What can be more heart-wrenching for a parent than to see their beloved child’s name engraved on a headstone in a cemetery?  One grief-stricken friend wrote, “there is something about seeing your child’s name engraved in stone that tears a parent’s heart out.  The finality?  The cold hardness of stone?  The permanence?  It hurts so badly.” My son is buried 900 miles away so I don’t get to visit his grave often.  There is just no way to prepare for that first visit to the cemetery after the stone is in place. The founder of TAPS wrote that she and her friends who had lost husbands in a plane crash, knitted little hats for their husbands’ tombstones.

Many parents lovingly tend their child’s grave.  Some go each day or week and plant flowers and leave mementos, depending on the rules at the cemetery.  Some just visit on special days and release balloons or butterflies.  I have discovered that there are numerous companies that sell personalized items.  There is a place that personalizes seed packets.  You can also order memorial stepping stones.

There may come a time when you want to do something special in memory of your lost child.  For some it may mean something on a large scale like setting up a scholarship fund or organizing a golf tournament for charity.  It may mean writing a book or a poem.  It may be planting a tree, a flower, or a whole garden.  Some have set up websites with pictures and letters from friends and family.  There are websites to help with this.  One woman places a notice in the local newspaper every year on the anniversary of her son’s death.  My niece is putting together a book for my son’s children.  She has gathered stories and pictures from family and friends.

It may take time for your heart to tell you the best way to memorialize your child.  It may be that the memorial you choose is simply in your own heart.

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