Posted by: Kathy | July 12, 2011

Facing a Fear with a Visit

In my last post, I wrote about a very strange dream I had on Sunday morning and how it left me gasping for air. Early Sunday morning I was IMing with a friend about my dream, when suddenly a thought popped into my mind – I’m going to the cemetery today. For those who know me well, that’s a big “HUH?” since I have not been to the cemetery since the 1 year anniversary of my mom’s death on November 16, 2009, for the unveiling of her gravestone. But the more I tried to push this thought from my mind, the more it pushed back. So I went.

As I was driving there, I thought about the dream and how it was the first time I had dreamt that my mom was dead. I think that is what drove me to go to the cemetery. I wanted to see my mom’s grave for real, as I didn’t really see it in the dream. Honestly, the dream still scares me. I even looked up its many meanings in my son’s dream book. I so rarely dream of my mom, and dreaming of her has been a way of being with her, if just for a few minutes. Will I ever see my mom’s beautiful face in my dreams again?

It was a beautiful sunny day, hot, but not too bad with the breeze on the hill where the graves are located. I had brought my iPad, iPod, and a blanket to sit on, planning to listen to music and write. But instead I spent my time listening to music and clearing out dead leaves, pruning the plants in front of the graves, and planting two flowers that I had gotten. It took awhile to do all of this, and by the time I was done, I was hot, sweaty, and dirty. But I felt like I had accomplished something good.

My mom's grave

When I took my stuff back to car, I opened the glove box to look for something and saw my daughter’s pacifier. My mom had gotten it for her, and this pacifier had been at my parents’ house for many years. About 6 months ago, Nikki saw it in a cabinet and insisted on having it. That night, we took the pacifier home so she couldn’t ask for it anymore, and I must have stuck it in the glovebox and forgotten it was there. I took the pacifier and 5 pennies (what I believe my mom left for me in her car, which I now drive) back to the gravesite. I dug a small hole along the right side of my mom’s gravestone, dropped the pacifier and pennies in, and then covered them back up. This way, when the ground is moved to bury my father, hopefully not for many years, the pacifier and pennies won’t be disturbed. I know my mom would think this is funny, and even my daughter laughed when I told her what I had done.

My grandparents' grave (Mom's parents)

As I mentioned, I haven’t been to the gravesite in over a year and a half. It has been too painful for me to go, especially since my dad’s name is on the gravestone, like a reminder of bad things to come. I cried during my drive to the cemetery, and stood there sobbing when I saw my mom’s gravestone. But I’m glad I went. Even though I believe my mom and the other family member buried in that plot are in heaven, it was time for me to go. Time for me to face a fear in a way, of seeing my mom’s name engraved in stone, symbolizing that she is really gone.

Our family plot

It was an accomplishment of sorts for me to go to the cemetery and spend time at my mom’s grave. But as my dad said, the dream may have been a healing experience for me, and my trip to my mom’s grave may have been too.



  1. Hi Ilana. I’m sorry about losing your mom and missing the unveiling. My mom’s gravestone actually wasn’t complete at her unveiling. The orchid tile that my brother had made was missing and couldn’t be put in for some reason. I have a copy of the tile on my wall, but it took me awhile to go see it for real in my mom’s gravestone. My mom raised orchids and had over 300 plants when she died. My dad has taken over the care of these plants and they are thriving. He says it is with my mom’s help.

    My husband says the same thing to me, that I don’t need to go to the grave to visit my mom because she is always with me. I do believe my mom’s spirit is with me, just as your mom’s spirit is with you, no matter if you’re in Florida or New Jersey, which is where I live.

    My favorite quote is by Thomas Campbell: “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”


  2. I can relate to what you’re going through because I am going through the same. My mother passed away a year and two months ago from Ovarian Cancer and we just went up north for her unveiling. We live in Florida but my mother wanted to be buried with her parents in New Jersey. Things didn’t go as planned and we didn’t get to have the unveiling. I’m disappointed, but fortunately one of my mom’s relatives performed the unveiling for us. It has been a year since I’ve been to my mother’s grave and at times I feel guilty that I haven’t been able to visit the gravesite. People have been telling me not to feel guilty because its just a grave and my mother’s spirit will always be with me. I’m going to try to get back up there for her birthday and leave flowers at the grave.

    I love your blogs so please keep blogging!

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