To go, or not to go?

My oldest son leaving dinosaurs for his baby brother to play with Memorial Day weekend.

I stopped by the cemetery last Sunday to visit my son’s grave. But I honestly don’t know if I should have gone.

I’ve decided I don’t like going to the place where I buried the child I never got to meet. Every time I go there I leave with a very heavy, sad heart. It’s like the weight of his death comes back crashing down on me.

I have a number of friends who find peace and solace at their child’s resting place. Not me. I feel awkward going there. I don’t know how to act.

Am I supposed to talk to the air and hope he’s nearby listening? Because even if he’s able to visit different places on earth, I don’t know that he’s there all the time waiting for me to come.

Am I supposed to lay a blanket out and sit near his headstone while I reflect on his short life? Because I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that. I thought about taking a cake with me on his first birthday but I am pretty sure our cemetery has rules against picnicking on burial grounds.

Am I supposed to sob at the site, overwhelmed at his loss? Because I am at times overwhelmed, but I am not the kind to openly express my heartache by crying. Write about it? Yes. Break down in the middle of daylight at my son’s grave? Not my style.

So what should I do? I feel helpless when I go there. What can I possibly do for my angel son? I finally threw a plastic bucket and a couple of toothbrushes in the back of my van so we could scrub his headstone each time we visit. My boys love that and it makes me feel like I am at least performing one simple act of service for my lost baby.

I honestly feel bad that we don’t visit the cemetery more often. I feel bad that I don’t like going there. I’m hoping my feelings will change but right now it’s really hard for me. I feel like I gave that earth a piece of my soul the day we covered his tiny casket and it’s a very painful place.

I find myself asking the question, should I go or should I not go? I want to pay tribute to his memory and find a place where I can feel close to him, but I don’t know how or where. And then there’s another question that eats at me making me feel guilty for not visiting his gravesite more often: If I don’t go, does that mean I am letting him go?

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. anonymous
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 10:16:49

    I’m sure that your heart does what it should each and every day, whether you are at the cemetery or at home…and that is to remember him. The cemetery is his resting place, a place I’d imagine he doesn’t spend a lot of time, spiritually. I don’t think it is bad for you to not like going there…it is not a place of healing, it is a place of burial and death. Celebrating your family and always loving Luca is what you should be doing and feel happy doing it…and if that doesn’t happen at the cemetery, so be it. There are no rules to life, or death. He is and always will be your son. And someday, you will get to feel that.


    • Natalie
      Jun 09, 2011 @ 10:29:34

      I absolutely love what you said. It perfectly explains what I am feeling. I don’t feel close to Luca at the cemetery, yet there other places where it feels like if I look over my shoulder, he could be standing. I will always love and remember him even if I don’t do that very often at the cemetery.


  2. natalie
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 11:29:03

    I love you darling. I can’t imagine it is easy. I hate situations where we are “supposed” to feel something. It often ends in feelings of inadequacy. Stay strong.


    • Natalie
      Jun 09, 2011 @ 22:12:42

      Thanks Nat. I agree with you. Sometimes when there are high expectations to feel or do something it ends in disappointment. I have to remind myself that I don’t need to do something simply because I am “supposed” to.


  3. Stephanie
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 11:56:59

    We lost our little girl 4 years ago this month. And to be honest, we went to the cemetery often, but after we moved (far away) I realized she really wasn’t “there”. However, I feel her when we do family things, I feel her close when we are struggling, and I feel her when we let our 24 pink balloons go every June. I love her with us, and I’m glad her tiny body is “resting” near other tiny ones… but that’s just it. Her body is in Ogden,and her spirit is wherever we are. And that’s how it should be! Your Luca knows you love him, anywhere you are.


    • Natalie
      Jun 09, 2011 @ 22:15:45

      You’re right Stephanie. Her body is in Ogden, like Luca’s, but here spirit is near you. I feel the same way about Luca. I am so grateful for the times I feel him near. It gives me hope.


  4. Amanda S.
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 14:51:39

    To be honest, I’ve been to Hannah’s grave a total of 3 times since she passed away almost 11 years ago. I just really have never felt a reason to. It doesn’t make me happy, or sad, just really indifferent and I think your friend is right about those little spirits not spending much time (if any?) there.
    We talk about her and think about her, and tell her Happy Birthday on August 24th, but I have work to do here that I’m confident she is acutely aware of, so I don’t feel guilty if she’s not always on my mind. You may be right about the “letting go,” (at least, in a way) but I hope you don’t see that as a bad thing. A LOT of energy goes into grief as I’m sure you well know, and if you could trade places with Luca, wouldn’t you want him to spend that precious energy on other things?
    I hope you don’t think I’m trying to tell you to stop crying and stop being sad when everything is still pretty fresh and tender. I would NEVER suggest that! But you also need to give yourself permission to not go to the cemetery if you don’t want to. You are not doing him a disservice by allowing yourself freedom from grief, even if it is a brief break. ❤


  5. Jennifer
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 16:53:14

    Something that helps me when I go to Jason’s grave is that I go in my bedroom before we go and I say a prayer by myself. I ask for peace and guidance. I didn’t use to do that until my sister told me I should as I will feel a lot better. I did that and I feel as if Jason is there with us when we go visit his grave. Yesterday I actually felt at peace with the whole thing. Its ok to cry, I still cry not because I lost my husband, but more for the life my young kids and I have had to adapt to. I have not been (but am working on it) but I heard if you go to the temple, its comforting also. Another thing I am doing, I made a memory book for him. Its helpful to look at the pictures we do have of eachother.


    • Natalie
      Jun 09, 2011 @ 22:20:36

      Those are really good suggestions Jennifer. I like what you said about adapting. I too am sad for the life we have to to live without Luca. I know it’s not really helpful to ask “what if” questions, but I do wonder what life would be like if he had lived.


  6. Trackback: My Year in Headstone Pictures « Boogers on the Wall

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