Thursday, April 24, 2014

Does Your Husband's Headstone Look Better Than My Husband's?

A couple of weeks ago, my good friend Margaret asked a question on the Widow Chick Facebook page that I loved.

Why do we put decorations at the grave of our spouse (and in my case also the grave of my son)?  Is it to make that headstone look less lonely or make it look softer?  Is it for me, to make me feel I'm doing what should be done because not many people visit them?  Any thoughts?

Ha.  "Any thoughts."  Geez, Margaret.  You should know me well enough by now that I always have thoughts.  They might be kind of screwy, but they're there.

I think the whole grave thing is pretty personal and I sure hope that no one out there is judging me on how often I go visit Brad's.  I mean, I lost my cemetery punch card around year two, so there's really no way of knowing how often I've gone.  I picked a cemetery that doesn't even really allow decorations at the headstones, so I could be going every day or not at all, as far as anyone else knows.  So far, Brad hasn't tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Hey.  You haven't poured a beer over me in a while.  What gives?"

So, if you're judging my widowness on how often I visit my husband's're about to be disappointed.

I don't go that often.  I really don't.  His grave is about an hour and a half away, in a beautiful spot in the mountains and if you're wondering why I chose to put him there, rather than some place more convenient, I'll tell you.

It's so we don't have to go all of the time.

I feel like if we had buried him right here in our own backyard (not literally - I don't think I could have gotten HOA approval on that one), then that's where the kids and I would constantly feel we had to go on anniversaries or his birthday.  But we don't.  We have a family meeting every time an important date is coming and I say, "Where do you guys want to go to remember Dad?" and their answers vary every time.

But it has crossed my mind to worry (because I worry about everything) if people think that we don't care because we don't stand at his grave for every milestone we pass. And if you are one of those people who walk by his grave - plain and undecorated - and think that the reason it isn't covered in wreaths and flowers is because we don't care...let me set your mind at ease.

I think of my husband throughout my entire day.  I think of him when I wake up.  I think of him before I fall asleep.  I think of him when my basement floods, when I'm mowing my lawn, and when I'm struggling over math homework with my kids.  I think of him when I'm laughing with friends, when I'm having a beer, and when I've grilled a great pork chop (especially when I'm doing all three at the same time).

He is a part of me.  And that's pretty hard to forget.

I think it's wonderful that people find their own ways to remember their loved ones.  It's almost like a form of self-expression, isn't it?  But in no way is it the same for us all.  And, as with everything that has to do with widowhood, there is no right way to do it.

Many people don't know this, but on the first anniversary of my husband's death, I didn't go to the cemetery.  You see, I felt like the cemetery was my choice and while I do feel like Brad would approve, it wasn't like I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that that was where he wanted to be.  So, in many ways, I feel like the whole burial and grave thing was for us...not necessarily for him.

So, where did I go on that first anniversary?

I went to the corner of the road where he had his accident.  And I cried.

I couldn't figure out for a while why I chose that spot.  It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  But then I realized that that's because that was the last spot he was truly him, enjoying a beautiful summer ride down to work, probably looking at Pike's Peak...before life changed in an instant.  And that's how I wanted to remember him - as he was in those last moments.

I don't have a memorial marker down there.  I don't feel like anyone else has to know that that's where he was.  It's kind of my spot, for my reasons, and that's good enough.

So, in answer to your question, Margaret...I'd like to think that the reason why we decorate those graves is because it brings us some comfort.  I'd hate to think that it's because we feel like someone else is judging us if we're not there on every important date.  And I don't believe a plain headstone means that someone isn't missing the person who is gone.

I think they're just remembering them in their own way.

Check out the Widow Chick blog during the week of 
May 19th for MORE CONFESSIONS - a series of Q&As
 with some of the people you all met in 


  1. This is beautiful. I don't even have a headstone to decorate. We chose cremation, and my husband's ashes were spread at the Boy Scout Camp he loved very much.

  2. It's going to be ten years this fall since LH passed and I have not been back to the cemetery since the funeral...I live in the same town but I'm not 100% sure where it even is. My plan is to visit it this year, probably for the only time. I will be moving away and feel like I ought to at least go once and take some flowers or something...

  3. Great post, thanks for sharing!!