Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Visiting Mom at 5 Years

Visiting Mom and our traditions
What a difficult month this has been for me. I'm not asking for a pity party and actually I'm finally getting out of my funk. You all lend me your ears and that's all I can ask for. J I have a couple blog posts written and am in the process of polishing them up to post soon. I wanted to explain my absence though.

It was the 5th anniversary of Mom's passing this year. A sad time every year. At least I don't sob openly in public anymore. Those who have lost someone close know how easily that can happen during the first couple years.

The pain is still there, very raw. I am very very sad. But I process it, sometimes confront it, sometimes overwhelmed by it. That sob comes in private. I then put it back in its place until the next year when the scab is ripped off again and the process starts all over. Each year, the wound gets smaller, but still pain hurts just as much. You just learn how to deal with it better. Hope this makes sense. 

I started feeling my funk coming on a couple weeks prior to the end of March. Coincidentally, I stopped writing just about then. I became lethargic and tired. Just so down and so negative on everything. Damn it, I hate this time of year. I came off of a bad winter with a bout of winter blues and then right into the anniversary of Mom's death.

I started nursing my emotional wounds and was able to get together with my sister Sheryl for Passover and then the following weekend she came out for the day to visit Mom's grave. It turned out to be a nice day. We shed some tears and Sheryl brought daffodils to place on the grave. They were one of Mom's favorite flowers.

There are so many traditions surrounding visiting gravesites, one of the most common being the laying of flowers. You also see personal momentos and photographs left. I always know my stepdad Barry has been out to the cemetery to visit Mom because I see pennies left on the headstone. It's comforting know that Mom is being visited by us.

"During the Vietnam War, it became popular to leave coins on the graves of fallen soldiers."  In addition, "Pennies are left on graves most of all, in remembrance of the deceased. Leaving a coin from your pocket is a way to leave a part of yourself at the burial site. The coin is a visual reminder that, even in death, the memory of the deceased lives on. It is also a sign of respect to the dead, as it shows that their memory has value to you and is something you want to commemorate."

Jewish tradition, of which of course I follow, calls for one to leave stones on the headstones to show that you were there. It shows others that you were there and actively visit. It doesn't matter what the stones look like: round, square, imperfect, smooth, or jagged. You see little piles of stones on graves and it is comforting knowing that that person is still mourned, loved, and visited.
View of the cemetery from the grove
Online, Rabbis offer "official reasons" for the marking of a headstone with pebbles and stones which range from the poignant, to the practical and to the deeply religious. You can find these reasons through an online search. I leave the stones because it shows I have been there, still desperately miss my loved ones, and it brings me closer to my Jewish faith.
Since Mom was laid to rest at Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, my personal tradition is that every year I bring a bag of various nuts for the squirrels. She loved wildlife and the squirrels (and deer) are so abundant there. It completely enhances the calming nature of the cemetery for misty eyed reflection and soul searching.
I take the big bag and scatter the nuts up in a grove just above the grave markers of 100s of soldiers and/or their wives. I sometimes see squirrels eagerly making their way down the trees for their prize, gathering up one or two nuts. They race back up to a branch overlooking the green lawn and begin feasting on their newly found treats. I always smile at this sight and it helps to bring me peace.


  1. Yasher koach! jack

  2. Marc, I lost my Mother in Jan, 2007, and yes, it does get a little easier as time goes by. That is until you sit down and remember your loved ones with fond memories and wish they were still here so you could tell them how much you miss and love them. I enjoy and look forward to your posts.

  3. Love you bro.........Big Sis

  4. Today is the anniversary of my dad's death, eleven years ago.
    I still miss him immensely and still seem to be fairly emotional about it - last week I burst into tears having dinner out with my husband when we were remembering the placing of his ashes (Hegins Mountain) in 2004.

    I keep myself under control from getting too sad and staying sad too long by reminding myself how much my dad would hate it if he knew my grief over him was effecting my life in a negative way.

  5. Thank you so much fo this comment. I really appreciated it and appreciated the hug! :) Marc