Mom once told me how, at her own mother’s burial, the family was ushered away from the grave before the casket was to be actually buried. As the workers did the job, she felt compelled to watch, but felt she had to stand outside the cemetery fence. She was aching to be closer, and to participate, the process incomplete.
Now we have developed a tradition in our family. We dig the hole if we can, and we fill it in ourselves. I believe it is very important. An urn is not so hard to dig a hole for, even in the rocky ground of this cemetery. Especially for those who are strong and kinetically oriented (maybe less inclined to write eulogies), it gives a meaningful way to mourn… to feel the physical finality of death with your muscles against the hardness of the ground… to toss in a handful or spadeful of earth, actively obliterating the physical remains of your loved one from your sight forever.
Before placing the urn in the ground, we passed it around the circle, giving each person a moment to feel her weight in death, to be close to her physical manifestation on Earth, one last time.
Rev. Lee Simpson joined us Sunday to say the words of committal. She observed that the act of burying a unique work of art highlighted the fact that we were burying the remains of a unique human being.