“Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep”
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.
written by Mary Elizabeth Frye
I came across this poem the other day, and it really spoke to me. For years now, I guess since my grandfather died and then my grandmother, I have felt that although graves of loved ones are sacred, we shouldn’t necessarily make a shrine out of them or be preoccupied with flowers and decorations for them. And I certainly don’t feel that someone’s grave is the only place where I can speak to them when I feel like I need to. I have talked to my grandmaw in the car on the road I used to drive to go see in her the summer, in my bed in the quiet hours of the night, and in the woods when I’d see a flower or a berry patch that reminded me of her. I’ve probably spoken to her in more places than I even realize. I don’t need a cold stone to touch or leaves and grass at my bended knee to help comfort me. I know in my heart that there is an afterlife, an existence after this one has passed away.
My Christian beliefs lead me to be certain that there is no end to our existence if we have accepted the gift of salvation. I think that at funerals, I feel more sorrow not from sadness that I won’t see the person again but from the uncertainty I always feel about the state of one’s soul and if he or she was truly saved. This may seem odd, but this is what always goes through my mind during a funeral. I think it’s why I was more distraught at my grandfather’s funeral than at my grandmother’s. I was closer to my grandmaw, but I felt a little more confident in her belief in God. I don’t know if my granddaddy was saved. We weren’t close, and I’d not had more than a few brief conversations with him during my whole adulthood. Well, my whole life, really. The thought of a lost soul, a soul that I knew personally, tore me up inside.
I haven’t been to my grandmaw’s grave since we buried her in 2006. The graveyard is set way back in the woods down a gravel road, and there are no houses anywhere near it. The church isn’t even used for regular services anymore, and people are rarely buried out there these days. It’s not the kind of place you want to go alone, that’s for sure. But I don’t feel bad about not going out there because I know that her spirit does not dwell there. Only her body rests there now.