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Cemeteries have served as a transcendental site to mourn and honor the dead for hundreds of years, and, while seemingly centered around death, they have also always been an integral part of life. The history of cemeteries goes back to basic plots on family homesteads and small graveyards surrounding country churches. The need for more space led to the creation of larger cemeteries, generally on the outskirts of town. Traditionally, cemeteries were an essential and scenic part of every community, often featuring an elaborate entrance gate and stunning sculptures or greenery. Townspeople of the past even used cemeteries as a place to gather in good spirits and enjoy time outdoors.
In recent times, as more people recognize the importance of memorialization in the grieving process and as the desire for alternative burial options increases, cemeteries have evolved. Contemporary memorial parks emphasize the simplistic beauty of nature and of life by utilizing flat stones and including just a few tall monuments to represent hope. More modern options, such as a columbarium or a cremation bench, meet the needs of individuals who wish to be cremated. Some cemeteries have also aimed to better support those who are grieving by designing features like memorial walls, healing paths, and sacred spaces to gather or meditate.
Because burial signifies the finality of death, it can be a key part of the journey through grief for many individuals. Spending time at a gravesite encourages peace in knowing that a loved one is at rest. Besides paying tribute to a person’s life and legacy, permanent memorials can help sustain the feeling of a physical connection with the deceased. They also offer a place for others to remember and honor the decedent far into the future.
With Memorial Day approaching, there are a few etiquette reminders for upholding a respectful cemetery visit:
If you are interested in learning more about cemeteries, burial options, or the connection between gravesites and grief, contact your local funeral home. The professionals there can also help assist you in designing a permanent memorial for you or a loved one.
Grief is not something you can plan for or rehearse. The grief process is different for everyone, and it follows no specific timeline. One of the biggest struggles for those journeying through grief is how to recover the normal they once had before losing their loved one. Although the effects of grief vary from person to person, stress is generally a common factor. It can disrupt daily life and lead to physical ailments such as headaches, irritability, and exhaustion.
Many people turn to mindful exercise for minimizing grief-related stress. Yoga is a great option to consider because it promotes serenity and introduces coping mechanisms for those who have just suffered a loss. Accumulating stressors caused by grief can physically manifest in a variety of ways, and some of them, such as holding your breath or clenching your teeth, might even go unnoticed. These seemingly minor symptoms can have a negative impact on the body. Whether you choose to join a class or purchase an instructional video, yoga helps relieve tension in a healthy way. The breathing exercises, movement, and meditation associated with yoga facilitate a sense of peace as you wade through grief.
In addition to developing healthy habits to help manage the stress of grief, it is important to seek additional support as needed. Funeral homes provide a safe space for families to both honor the life and mourn the death of loved ones, but they also offer many grief-related resources over the weeks and months following the funeral service. Grief care coordinators connect with and assist families who are working through the stress and emotions that accompany loss. Contact your local funeral professionals for more information about how to cope with the effects of grief. If you are interested in giving yoga a try, check out these great YouTube videos that were specifically developed for those who are grieving.
In “Healing Yoga - Season 1 - Episode 12 – Grief,” Deborah Devine encourages those who are grieving, regardless of age or fitness level, to use yoga as a way to manage the symptoms and encourage mindfulness.
In “Yoga for grief and sadness // Yoga with Dionne // 20 minute practice,” Dionne Elizabeth leads a gentle, calm series of yoga poses to create openness on the journey through grief.