Friday, November 04, 2016

Visiting the Grave

I'm heading to Colorado Springs today.  I'm excited to see friends and get away.  I haven't been on a trip by myself since I came out here to Knoxville to look for a house and that was three days of stressful house hunting.  Before that, the last time I'd been on a trip alone was for my sister's wedding and she has been married for almost eight years.  So, I'm not a big traveler.

Besides seeing my friends, which is a big plus, I am going to see Laila's grave.  I haven't been since the day before we moved.  Visiting her grave has been a big part of my grieving and healing.  At first we went once a week and then we started to go every few weeks.  We watched as the row went from just her spot to being almost filled.  We swatted gnats in the summer and decorated her grave for holidays.  We went for walks around the cemetery and even had a picnic in front of her grave.  For my family it has always been a peaceful experience.

I have friends who have lost their children and they have made the observation that for them it feels very empty and depressed.  I understand their feelings.  Our beliefs tell us that the spirit is no longer here on this earth with their body and that they exist still.  We believe that our loved ones have lives and purpose on the other side of the veil.  We know that they are aware of us and that while we can't see them, they are still near.  Some people have experienced spiritual experiences where they have seen their loved ones.  I personally have not had that experience but I know of friends who have.  Sometimes people have dreams with their loved ones in it where messages are communicated.  For me, it is usually just a feeling or a thought that comes to my mind that she is near.  So, with this knowledge, I do understand why someone would  not enjoy visiting the grave.  I understand how it can feel empty and perhaps even pointless in some ways if we are truly able to still communicate with our loved ones beyond the veil.

That said, it is very different for me.  There was a time when my brother advised me to stop visiting so often.  He was concerned that I was focusing more on the dead than the living.  He worried that I was not honoring her life but living in the past.  I appreciated his love and concern for me but he didn't understand.

The Plan of Happiness tells us that we shouted for joy to come to this earth to gain a body.  We fought a war in Heaven for the right and freedom to come to earth and experience life.  We had a lot to lose but we also had so much more to gain.  Gaining a body is an essential part of that plan.  The bible talks about spirits without bodies being willing to take the bodies of swine in order to have a body.  We want bodies.  Our bodies are amazing and incredible.  Through the Spirit, I know that Laila's purpose in coming to this earth was to gain her body.  I know that her body is precious to her and that she looks forward to the day when she gets to be reunited with her body.

I know that when it was time to choose her resting spot she had a part in letting us know where she should be.  When we found the spot we knew it was where her body should rest.  Her graveside service had a priesthood dedication of that spot.  It was dedicated to be protected from the elements and to be a sacred place.

For me, that spot has been a sacred spot.  I have felt peace and love when I visit.  I have felt close to her and even though I know she is near us often, when my family would go to visit, it became a physical way for me to feel us altogether at one time in one place.  I know she is busy.  I know she does not haunt her grave site.  I know she does not need me to visit.  I also know that she is aware of when I visit.  I know that she is near when I visit.  I believe that she cares about the spot where her body rests.  It matters to her that she was able to come to earth and receive her precious body and the fact that her spirit isn't still with her body, doesn't mean it suddenly means less to her.

I honor my daughter's life by doing service in her honor.  I honor her life by the celebrations we have on Christmas Eve and on Easter.  More importantly, I honor her life by living a devoted, faithful life.  I honor her life by teaching her siblings about God and about obedience to his Gospel.  I teach them about the Plan of Salvation.  Laila is waiting to be reunited with us on the other side.  She wants us each to live a life in harmony with the Gospel so that we can return to be with her forever.  I honor her life by striving to do that.

But, I honor her body by visiting her grave.

I have never visited her grave by myself.  I don't think I was far enough in my healing to visit alone.  I was always scared of the emotions that would come from going alone but I'm ready now.  I'm nervous about going.  I'm excited about going.  I'm not sure what I expect to feel or what I expect to have happen but I know I need to go.  I don't know where we will be moving next (maybe further away from her) or when the next time will be that I can go again.  I know that living so far away and having a little baby in tow will complicate things so it seems like now is the best time to go before the baby comes and we move.

I think this will be another step towards healing and I'm looking forward with interest to this visit.


Marcy said...

I love to hear your perspective. It broadens my scope of life. Love you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this. I feel as you do, that there is healing that comes from visiting a grave, and it can be a place for reflection and peace and focus. I am grateful for the opportunity to have such places. Thank you again for sharing.