You are busy.
Rushing through your life like a train without brakes – stations flow by, unidentified and instantly forgotten.
You work long hours to keep your business running. You snatch fleeting moments for your partner, children, parents, and friends. How precious they are.
You do not sleep enough and exercise infrequently.
No time to take a break. To relax and reflect.
Your memories are like pieces of a jigsaw chaotically spread on your lifeline. Some bits are barely visible. Some are missing.
Sounds disturbing, I know.
Want to slow down?
You can read self-help books or join a mindfulness class. Even pay a guru a couple of hundred to guide you to serenity.
Or take a shortcut.
Want to Know How?
First, let me tell you a story.
After my dad passed away, I cried once – on the night before his funeral. Lying in my old bed, I wrote him a letter. To say what I had never said while he lived:
How much I loved him.
How sad I was about the loss. But also relieved because he was finally at peace.
Since then I have often felt his spirit’s presence. I was daydreaming our conversations. Imagining his eyes looking down at me with understanding and love. Those fine lines running through his face when he smiled. He was fine wherever he was. We were fine.
Then it disappeared. Obliterated. Forever, I thought.
In June I went to Moscow, carrying have-to-do and wish-to-do lists in my bag. I knew they were too long for a brief visit.
Going to my father’s grave was on both lists.
On the third day, I went there. My dad’s buried in an old graveyard. Like a messy skirt dotted with gemstones, it covers hilly grounds around a charming little church from 1640.
For the first time, I went alone.
The day was hot. I was standing in the shadow of a linden tree. Listening to the wind playfully ruffling its unruly leaves. A ray of sunshine, pushing through the trees, landed carefully on father’s headstone.
Invisible to me, birds bravely competed with commemoration chorales coming down from the church.
A feeling of a deep connection enchanted my heart. Calmed my feelings. Cleared my thoughts.
Then tears came.
Tears of love, appreciation, and regret.
Appreciation for his unconditional acceptance. Regret of unspoken words, un-given gratitude, and un-taken kindness.
I squeezed his headstone with the firmness I’d never hugged him with when he lived.
I wish I had.
I felt that this little spot means the world to me. That I will not give it up. As long as I live.
You Belong To a Bigger Family
For better or worse.
You exist because of them. Because of them, you’ve become who you are.
Remembering your late family members connects you with your roots. Gives a feeling of wholeness and continuity to you and your children. One day they will be mature enough to appreciate that.
There are many ways to remember.
You can do it at home browsing through the old photographs or listening to your mum’s favourite classics. Rereading letters and postcards or chatting with your cousin about the old days.
Or you can visit your family graves and add another dimension to your time-travel.
5 reasons to visit family graves:
• To deepen a connection with your family and the past.
• To reconnect with yourself. Your deepest fears and greatest hopes.
• To see your life from another perspective.
• To feel eternity and remember transience.
• To find peace and serenity.
Don’t Go in Vain
Don’t make quick, business-like, pop-in visits.
Make time first, then go. Leave everything outside. Including your gadgets.
Be in the moment. Tête-à-tête with your history. The rest of the world safely locked outside – no doorbells, intruding e-mails, and buzzing mobile phones.
The world can wait.
Let your memories flow.
Remember the moments you cherish most.
Tell your mum that you forgive her for hurting you a long time ago. For not being the mother you wish she were. She did her best. Tell her you know.
Tell your dad what’s challenging you and what’s good in your life. Tell him you miss his laughter and your silly fights about politics.
Ask for forgiveness for not seeing him much.
Let go of hurt, sadness, and regrets. Let the wind, a choral, or a never-sleeping spirit of the graveyard take it away.
Forgive them and forgive yourself.
Keep Your Family Graves
I left a part of my soul at my dad’s grave. Willingly.
I’ve learned that the connection between us has never been broken. I was just too busy to keep tuning in. Should it happen again, I know where to go.
So do you.
Visiting a graveyard leaves you feeling at ease.
Pieces of a jigsaw come in place.
Reflecting on ancestors’ lives helps you to better understand yourself and your relationships.
Learning from their mistakes helps you to grow into a better person.
Keep your family graves.