Is Visiting a Gravesite a Help?



We don’t visit our daughter’s grave. While this is a shocking statement for some, others understand our feelings. Whether or not to visit a gravesite is a personal decision, based on religious and spiritual beliefs, relationship with the deceased, the grief work that has been done, current feelings, and plans for the future. The comfort derived from a visit is another factor.

On the first anniversary of our daughter’s death my husband and I, family members, and a few of her friends, gathered at her gravesite. I passed out a list of my daughter’s values—practices that she lived by and wanted her children to live by. Our twin grandchildren, one boy and one girl, were 15 years old when their mother died. We wanted to increase their awareness of her values, and how they might help in the years to come.

After this small ceremony we gathered for lunch at a local restaurant. Grief was still fresh for those sitting at the table, and we told “Helen stories.” Tears were shed, with more tears to come. This was the last time we visited our daughter’s grave. A friend asked why we don’t go there on Helen’s birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, or other holidays.

“It doesn’t do anything for us,” I answered honestly. Maybe my answer was too honest, but it was the truth.

Six months after our daughter died from injuries she received in a car crash, the twin’s father died from the injuries he received in another crash. We were almost paralyzed with shock, and his death brought back painful memories. A month later, the court appointed us as the twin’s guardians. They were already living in our house and lived there for seven years. Fortunately, the layout was perfect for them. Each of the twins had their own bedroom and they shared a bathroom. It was almost as if the kids had their own apartment.

We helped the twins get through high school, helped with the college search, and stood by them all through college. Both of them graduated from college with highest honors, were Phi Beta Kappa, found satisfying jobs, and planned for the future. Our grandson will be attending the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and our granddaughter and her husband, a divinity student, hope to start an inner-city ministry someday.

To remember our daughter we don’t have to visit her gravesite. Raising her children and staying involved in their lives is our memorial. We don’t believe our daughter’s soul is buried in the ground with her. Rather, we believe her spirit is always with us and honor her spirit by giving to others. Helen’s former husband asked us to buy a plot, casket, and gravestone so the twins would have a place to visit. But things didn’t work out that way.

The twins visited their mother’s grave once and never went again.  They’re too busy living her values, pursuing their dreams, and savoring every moment of life.

Harriet Hodgson

More Articles Written by Harriet

Harriet Hodgson, BS, MA has been an independent journalist for more than 35+ years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the MN Coalition for Death Education and Support. Hodgson writes for and has earned top status. A prolific author, she is the author of hundreds of articles and 31 books. All of her writing comes from experience and heer recent books focus on grief recovery: * Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life After Loss * The Spiritual Woman: Quotes to Refresh and Sustain Your Soul * 101 Affirmations to Ease Your Grief Journey: Words of Comfort, Words of Hope * Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life * Writing to Recover Journal (with 100 writing prompts) * Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, Lois Krahn, MD, co-author In 2007, after her daughter's death and former son-in-law's death, she became a GRG, grandparent raising grandchildren. Her latest book, Help! I'm Raising My Grandkids: Grandparents Adapting to Life's Surprise, came from this experience. In addition to writing books, Hodgson is a columnist for "Caregiving in America" magazine and Assistant Editor of ADEC Connects, the electronic newsletter of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. A popular speaker, Hodgson has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer's, hospice, and grief conferences. She has appeared on more than 160 talk shows, including CBS Radio, and dozens of television stations/programs, including CNN. Her work is cited in Who’s Who of American Women, World Who’s Who of Women, Contemporary Authors and other directories. She lives in Rochester, MN with her husband and twin grandchildren. Please visit for more information about this busy author and grandmother. Books by Harriet Hodgson The Spiritual Woman: Quotes to Refresh and Sustain Your Soul, available from Centering Corporation, and Amazon, 101 Affirmations to Ease Your Grief Journey: Words of Comfort, Words of Hope, available from Amazon, Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life, available from Centering Corporation, and Amazon, Writing to Recover Journal, available from Centering Corporation, and Amazon. Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, Lois Krahn, MD, Co-Author, available from Amazon,


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  • Marion says:

    Thank you for this inspiring article! I lost my daughter 4 months ago and I get to see my children every weekend! I am trying to do justice to my daughters memory. Its difficult to grieve and also be joyous for them but I hope I can instill in them what was important to their Mom ( my daughter)