We suggest you visit a cemetery this Memorial Day. Maybe you don't have a loved one buried nearby, so you don't customarily make such a visit. Still, do it. Or at least drive by a cemetery this Memorial Day. Seeing the beautiful array of flowers will be worth the visit. As you do it, keep in mind that they represent the love those who left the flowers have for their departed family members.
Here are a few reasons why it's a good idea to plan for your own gravestone:
1. It's a loving gesture
The life of a departed family member is worth celebrating. We recently visited the grave of a brother who passed 13 years ago. We were invited to meet our sister-in-law (his wife) and their children at the gravesite. It was his birthday. They follow this tradition every year to honor and remember him on this special day. Here's what happened:
Potted flowers were placed on the grave, with the children placing a single flower wherever they chose, in remembrance of their grandfather. We all sang "Happy Birthday," then shared a few thoughts about him. It was a sweet and happy time. Not sad, just joyful as we remembered him and renewed our faith that we will be with him again someday.
2. Give your family a helping hand in advance
Have a picture of the type of gravestone you want, along with what you want engraved on it. Or you can pre-order it. This will help your family make a right choice when they are in the throes of mourning.
It's also wise to have an "In the Event of My Death" notebook, which includes all the details of where your burial plot is-or where you want it to be-and any instructions regarding your funeral and burial, and what is already paid for. Your family will be immensely grateful for this help.
3. A place to speak to you after you're gone
Your gravesite can provide a venting place for your family. Also, if an offense occurred before your death without an opportunity to ask for forgiveness the gravesite provides a place to pour out those hurt feelings and be relieved of them. It's a place where some may be able to make peace with themselves over struggles they've had with you. Mostly, it's a place to tell you again how much you are missed and loved.
When you see a bowed head at a gravesite you can be confident that two things are happening: the bereaved is seeking comfort from God to bear the burden of their loss, or they bow in reverence to show respect and love for you, their departed loved one. Each is a worthy act for those who are still coming to grips with their loss.
5. A unique place to teach the younger generation
It opens the way for them to learn more about God, that living and dying are all part of His glorious plan for each of His children. Graves are holy places. A spirit of love permeates these hallowed places. They may even feel your presence there at times. Mostly they will be reminded of how much you loved them and how much they love you, still.
Many have found information about their ancestors in cemeteries. Many have trekked through burial grounds looking for clues about their predecessors. It's part of their legacy. You matter. Your posterity needs this bit of physical evidence that, yes, indeed, you lived. Your life mattered enough to celebrate it with this memorial.
Gravestones don't have to be big and fancy. In fact, some cemeteries no longer allow big and fancy. Some require flat stones. They can be elegantly engraved, but not rising above the ground. Check out your choice of cemetery location and find out their requirements before making any grand request of your posterity. It may create additional sorrow if they can't meet your request due to regulations. Make your request compliant with your burial place.
Most important of all, your greatest legacy to your children and grandchildren is the life you lived. If your legacy is one of love, laughter, service, and faith this will be the best possible memorial of you to them. That alone will be worthy of their singing and being joyful at your gravesite.