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Graveyard Picnics

A Guest Post from My Daughter Hannah.

Yesterday the family and I went for a walk on the bike path behind our house. When we were getting ready, we did NOT expect it to be so hot. It was definitely August weather and temperature!  When we started our walk we had a goal: we were going to walk to the graveyard down the street from us. It was pretty far, a two mile walk, and we didn’t think we would get that far. I really wanted to get there because I LOVE cemeteries.

When I was little Mom and I would have picnics in graveyards.


Anywho, we got on the bike path on the side that goes over the river, and as we started the kids were happy pointing out all the little animals.  As it got hotter we had to take more breaks, and we all got a lot of sun! Once we were on the bridge, Patrick and Willow had to stop and watch the water. The sunshine on the water shone like diamonds, and you could see the pebbles and weeds on the river bottom.

When we finally got to the graveyard we drank all the lemonade, because we were really tired. We found a huge spider and LOTS of daddy-long-leg “spiders”.

We stayed for a while before heading home.

Willow was lucky, she got to ride in the stroller most of the way there.

She took turns with Patrick, but he walked more.

Patrick taking a break in the double stroller.

Cooper wandered around a lot.  He liked drinking lemonade and collecting pebbles.

He kept trying to eat the pebbles.

The walk home was easier in some ways and harder in others. It was easier because we were going downhill and the sun was behind us, but harder because every one was exhausted and hot. Everyone was getting cranky and there wasn’t much shade because the sun had moved past the trees.  My mom was so tired from pushing the stroller both ways so at the end I had to push the stroller up the hill to our house. When we got home we drank tall glasses of cold water and watched T.V.

I was so proud, because we had walked four miles in all!

Momma adds:

I feel the need to clarify.  When I take my kids to a graveyard we do not go to the new areas, or even modern graveyards in general. We go to the old, neglected areas with stones toppling over and nary a flower to be seen. Just moss and leaves and sometimes tall grass. You wouldn’t see us camped out next to someone’s freshly laid out relative.

(For example- This little one we found was in the back corner- the newest date was 1957 and it no longer had access except via the bike path as the road leading to the rest of the cemetery was blocked off by brambles and underbrush.)

You would, however, see us weeding and tending to stones of people gone for a century or more. We are very respectful. We never leave garbage or trash laying about, and we not only pick up after ourselves but others who don’t care as much. We do not yell and run around, we do not climb on stones, we sit quietly and talk, and sometimes explore and see what interesting bugs or stones we can find. It is a peaceful place to be- that is why we like it.

48 Responses to Graveyard Picnics

  1. I am well impressed that you guys managed a four mile walk way more than I could do :) you should have put mom in the stroller and pushed her up the the last hill! Picnics in the cemetery sounds like a wonderful idea and glad you all had a nice day.

  2. Well done Hannah! It looks like you’re doing a great job of being the Big Sister! (I never had one – like you, I’m the oldest of my family).

    But I’m also impressed that you write so clearly. Your mom is doing a great job helping you learn the writing craft (and I’m sure, other crafts as well). Keep it up!

  3. Wow, sounds like a wonderful adventure – and four miles is pretty impressive on a hot summer day! I loved hearing all of the details of this trip – the way the water looked to you, and the things your siblings did. Thanks so much for writing this down and sharing it with us! 😀

  4. Wow! What an impressive walk! I loved your description because I could feel how fun it was and then how exhausted you all were! I enjoyed the pictures too – Cooper looks a lot like Willow. Maybe he needs a haircut? lol Nice writing – well done Hannah! xox

  5. That was a lovely post. Sounds like all y’all had a great time. I am with you, I love old cemeteries. I always find them very peaceful and full of interesting stuff. As for the four mile walk not sure I could have made….very out of shape right now… So good job on you and your family for walking those four miles. Well done! Thank you for sharing your walk with us Hannah!

  6. Liked rading your blog insert. You are growing up so darn fast! When I was in my twenties, I loved riding my bike or walking through the cemetary, especially the one where your grandfather is buried at. I would sit there, talk to him and take photos of the area, mostly stones and crows lurking there. I love to walk there, it’s so quiet and no one will bother you ever. I’m proud of you Hannah!

  7. Great job on getting the family out for such an ambitious outing. Sounds like a fabulous day!! I too love grave yards, they are so peaceful and mystical, and my son and I adore picnics. He’d eat outside every meal if he could, my little two year old.

    Love your writing, keep up the great work!!

    Hugs,
    Soaring Butterfly.

  8. I loved cemeteries, too. You should be proud. . Four miles in the summer is hard work, especially with the stroller!

    Well written. Keep it up!

  9. I personally feel that it is disrespectful to go traipsing through a cemetary for a picnic. If I were visiting a deceased loved one and found a bunch of people lunching at the gravesite, I would have been outraged. That is what public parks w/picnic areas are for. Do you ever dine at a restaurant for lunch? That might be something to consider.

    • A valid point. However: My father died when I was very little- so I grew up going to his grave and it feels very normal to do so.

      When I take my kids to a graveyard we do not go to the new areas, or even modern graveyards in general. We go to the old, neglected ones with stones toppling over and nary a flower to be seen. Just moss and leaves and sometimes tall grass. You wouldn’t see us camped out next to someone’s freshly laid out relative.

      (For example- This little one we found was in the back corner- it no longer had access except via the bike path and the road leading to the rest of the cemetery was blocked off by brambles and underbrush.)

      You would, however, see us weeding and tending to stones of people gone for a century or more. We are very respectful. We never leave garbage or trash laying about, and we not only pick up after ourselves but others who don’t care as much. We do not yell and run around, we do not climb on stones, we sit quietly and talk, and sometimes explore and see what interesting bugs or stones we can find.

    • Izzy, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this but in many cultures it is common place to have a picnic at a gravesite. For instance, growing up in Hawaii we spent a lot of time eating lunch beside my grandparents’ graves – children running and playing, laughter and music filling the air. It’s a celebration of the life they lived, the love we feel for them, our desire to be close and our need to live on. Not every culture mourns like the next. I think it’s extremely close-minded of you to overlook that.
      Had Joni Rae and her children been visiting a family member’s grave, their picnic lunch would’ve been totally appropriate. The fact that they were having a picnic lunch on their own is totally appropriate as well. They were obviously being respectful of the deceased.
      I’m not sure why you had such a problem with this post, but it’s obvious that Hannah did a fantastic job writing it. How rude of you to rain on her parade. That, my dear Izzy, is disrespectful. Shame on you.

      Kristi, Live and Love…Out Loud
      @TweetingMama

    • Honestly as long as people are being respectful and quiet and not disturbing anyone else I don’t see what the problem is, whether they’re in an old or a new part of the cemetery. I lost a good friend of mine a few years ago and his family regularly visit his grave, sit, talk, they put up a tree at Christmas time, all sorts of things. I’m not sure but maybe they do have picnics there, and why not? If you can’t be with the one you love and you miss them terribly, if it brings you comfort to visit their grave and have a picnic then so be it.

      I realize Joni and her family didn’t know anyone at this cemetery so it’s not quite the same as my friend’s family but again, as long as they’re being respectful I see no harm. Rather, it can be quite educational for the children, a quiet spot to reflect on life, miss and talk about loved ones, whatever.

      My sister is buried too far away for me to visit on a regular basis. I will think of her and talk to her whenever/wherever I’m missing her but it would bring me comfort to go to a cemetery to have a chat with her, even if it wasn’t her grave, simply because it’s a quiet, mystical, solitary place to do it.

      Okay, sorry for babbling, I just don’t think it was right of someone to criticize Joni and her family for something so innocent. And now especially that she has explained herself and how she and her family take care of the graves and respect the area, I hope no one else does!

      Regards,
      Soaring Butterfly.

    • here’s another thing to consider, izzy: how abusive it is to publicly criticize a child for a decision made by her parents.
      chew on that at the restaurant today.

    • As mentioned below it used to be more common that families would visit a relative and celebrate them. Our culture removes itself from death to an unhealthy extent.

      What they do is respectful. As Joni said they tend the forgotten graves, eat peacefully, and talk to each other. And knowing Joni’s kids they aren’t causing trouble.

      I think we need to eat a lot less in restaurants and enjoy a nice picnic with our families, especially when on a budget like many of us are. Untwist your knickers and give Hannah a pat on the back, damn it.

  10. Your writing is very impressive Hannah! It was very descirptive, and I felt like I was there with you!! Sounds like a day that will stay in your memory!! Awesome job on the walk!!

    Izzy: There are doctors that specialize in removing sticks from people’s bums. You should make an appointment.

  11. Great post Hannah! I love graveyards too! When I visited relatives in Ireland I’d always go around the old sections and take pics. One day I was telling a work colleague about my weekend, I had taken my son (who was 5 at the time) to wander through a graveyard, because he was wondering what they were like. (I have no problem doing random things that my son is curious about, just so he can learn more about them). Anyway, my friend couldn’t stop laughing at me because she thought it was the weirdest thing ever. Lucky I knew she could think whatever she wanted but I was fine with it :)

    And Joni, I love the layout of this blog, it’s beautiful!

  12. Hannah, you did a wonderful job! I can’t wait for you to start a blog of your own. It’s just very unfortunate that there are mean-spirited people out there in the world. Brush off that negative comment and continue to write. There are so many people who want to read more. Congratulations Hannah. :)

    Kristi, Live and Love…Out Loud
    @TweetingMama

  13. Great post, Hannah! I enjoy graveyards too. When I was younger, I went to a very, very small private school and we’d use the graveyard for art class. It was peaceful to sit there and draw what we saw. The older graveyards also makes for a nice history lesson. Our favorite site was a small, unkempt graveyard from the late 1800s/early 1900s. We would take crayon imprints of some of the stones and try to learn more about those people and the time in which they’d lived.

    When it came time to choose a site for my father, we picked somewhere that we hoped children would visit. His body is laid to rest next to a children’s memorial with a bench. I hope that people walk by there and picnic and such!

  14. Way to go! 4 miles is a great walk, especially in heat.

    My family loves cemeteries too. What’s really interesting is how different they are around the world. It’s fascinating. Check out cemeteries in. Hong kong as Israel for examples, and for some cool headstones wiki woodmans(woodmans?) headstones.

  15. I love cemetaries too. I used to take my favorite books to the one up from my school and read and write poetry. They always inspired me to write. I used to wonder what the people’s lives had been like, who they were and how they died. They have always been a source of inspiration for me. That’s cool that your mom is into them too. My mom has never liked them. Great post! Keep writing!

  16. Fantastic work, Hannah. I too love having picnics in cemeteries. As a child my mother would delve into our family tree. Sometimes that would involve long day trips where we had no choice but to have a picnic at the cemetery. Soon we realized that these are very peaceful places with no noise, cars, cell phones. Quiet places to sit and think. Now we take trips to places such as Louisiana,Alabama, and some places here in Georgia to see some of the memorials and cemeteries. Every area has a different way of marking the tombstones. Sometimes it is fun to guess about the person’s life. Some images tell you how the individual died. I have heard a rumor that on civil war soldier’s tomb stones that if the horse has both legs raised means that the rider was killed in battle, one leg raised means the rider died later of wounds caused in battle, all four legs on the ground means the rider died of natural causes. I can’t confirm this, of course, but it is an interesting side note :)

  17. That was a great post! Awesome descriptions! My hubs, our daughter and I adore picnicing in the cemetary-it’s serene and beautiful! We go as often as we can.

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