Sunday, March 7, 2010

At the cemetery

Today was a gorgeous, sunny, springlike day (10C/50F), and so, when we made our usual weekly visit to the cemetery, we decided to take a walk around the property. On our way back to Katie's niche, we decided to make a stop at the nearby Garden of Angels, which is the part of the cemetery designated for infant burials. Making arrangements after Katie's stillbirth, we were shown a spot there that could have been hers, but declined: it just seemed too, too sad, & the thought of interring her ashes in a niche seemed somewhat more bearable than lowering them into the cold, unforgiving ground.

Over the 11+ years since then, however, through our support group, we've met many parents -- probably almost a dozen that I can think of -- whose babies were buried there (as well as a few others whose babies were buried in the same cemetery but, like Katie, just not in the Garden of Angels). And we go over there to visit, every now & then, and sadly note the number of new mounds of earth & temporary markers that have appeared since our last visit.

We hadn't been there in awhile, & oh my. :( So many fresh, new, tiny graves. Three from January; two in the past week alone. Dh sadly noted that, from the first time we visited there in 1998, at least three new rows have been added to the Garden, stretching back further & further from the road.

Some of the graves have flowers & notes, stuffed animals & small toys sitting on top. Some are empty, every time we visit. Eventually, the temporary markers get removed; some have never been replaced with permanent ones. I wonder whether it's a matter of cost, whether it's a matter that's just too painful for the parents to face, or whether the absence of a marker indicates that they are trying to forget that the pregnancy ever happened.

While I know that not everyone visits the cemetery weekly, as dh & I do, it makes me sad to think that some of these babies' final resting places go unmarked & unvisited.

Those of you who have buried babies: how often do you visit the cemetery (if ever)?


  1. No cemetery, we never got that far. Doc took our kumquat-sized little one & that was it. Not sure if i'd want a place to go visit or not.

    Hugs. How sweet of you to visit weekly.

  2. They talked about a mass burial at the hospital, and with an undergad degree in poli sci, I had images of Rwanda, of Serbia, Bosnia in my mind, and I couldn't bear the thought. We had Gabe cremated, and perhaps, one day, we will put him in a nice. Right now he's on a shelf.

  3. I wonder about those ones too, the ones that remain unmarked. My sister still has the urn and my nieces ashes from 11 years ago, so she remains with her every time they move, even across states.

    That is sad about the growing rows :(

  4. We go maybe once a month, at least at this time of year. Usually to bring a seasonal decoration and remove the previous one. In the summer it's once or twice a week as we like to maintain the flowers.

    Charlotte's not buried in the baby section either. Once in a while I wander over there, but there is rarely anything new or disturbed. Our hospital has a monument for babies in a different cemetery and that's the "default" place if you don't make your own arrangements. I visit that one occasionally too.

    It's all so sad, all of it.

  5. My best friend's son died of SIDS at four months old. He is buried in the baby section and I can't help but wander around and think about the other babies and their parents - especially the ones that don't have any flowers or decorations. It breaks my heart for both the babies and their parents.

  6. We had Cale cremated and had planned on scattering his ashes at sea but I could never part with them. So we built a couple of shelves in our room that hold his ashes and the little reminder cards I made at the mortuary of his footprint and handprint.
    I don't think I could handle going to a cemetary every week. But I love that you do.

  7. Well, it's only been 2 years, 4 months, but we've visited the grave several times. I took my MIL to see the grave a few months ago (she'd never been). The time prior to that was on Mother's Day last year. The thing was, we lost Zach 11/07, didn't actually bury his ashes until summer 08, and it took them about 8 months to install the monument. So Mother's Day 09 was the first time we could see his grave in all its glory.

    As for the no-marker-graves...they're darned expensive, and it is so painful to spend that money on a marker for a child you never even got to know. Then again, we couldn't NOT buy a marker.

  8. I was really taken by how often you visit the cemetery. I used to visit my grandparents grave every so often when I lived closer. I did the grave candle, blanket in winter, etc. Mostly out of respect for my grandmother because she used to do it weekly for her husband when she was alive. To go weekly is such a constant reminder of your loss. I don't know how you can deal with it. You are truly a strong woman and what a wonderful husband you have that he goes with you. I realize that it was his loss too but I don't know many men that would continue to go so regularly. It's really beautiful of you two.


  9. My son's grave is right around the corner (10 minutes walk) and my visits range from once a week to once a month. I drive by there every morning on the way to work and sometimes blow a kiss over.

    He lies in the kid's section underneath big trees and is surrounded by girls. Most graves (maybe 30 altogether) are taken care of and some are as old as 1974... I really love this place, the small headstones, teddies, toys. There's rabbits and squirrels running around and it's a beautiful, peaceful place.

    Thanks for sharing. Always a pleasure reading you.

  10. The cemetery Lyra is in is in another town, so I make it once a month. We have a stuffed tiger there to watch over the site though. I would be there more often if we lived closer.