Written in Stone

This Friday marks the 17th anniversary of my mother in laws death. In Hebrew this is called the “Yahrzeit”. The custom in our family is to visit the grave of the deceased in the week leading up to the Yahrzeit, which is what my husband and I did on Sunday.024

Nine months before my mother in law died she had accompanied me and my husband to visit the gravesites of her husband and her parents before the holiday of Rosh Hashana, which is also a time to visit. She had been fighting cancer for close to 12 years at that time, and I remember vividly her leaning on one of the headstones and saying to me, “I think the next time I come here it won’t be under my own steam.” She was right. As she and I walked among the graves that day she commented on the designs on some of the foot stones lined up around us, and mentioned she would like one with roses on it. When the time came to choose the headstone and foot stone for her we followed her wishes.

WP_000410As I walked through the cemetery on Sunday I took notice of some of the designs on the headstones and how interesting the carvings were.

These two say Mother and Father in Yiddish013


 This one is unusual with its birds on a branch, but sadly reads “our beautiful daughter”

019The person buried here was someone I knew, a young man is his 40’s who died in an accident. He was an avid guitar player. 021

It is humbling to stand amid the graves, to hear nothing but silence, just the wind and the occasional call of a bird.  To see generations buried together, to think of the lives people lived, to look at the words carved out in the stone that families have written in remembrance of their loved ones.


30 thoughts on “Written in Stone

  1. This was a beautiful post. Every semester I take my college class (how to teach social studies in the elementary school) to a nearby old, rural, cemetery for a cemetery study. We analyze the headstones and discuss what their lives may have been like and the people who loved them. For many students it is the first or second time they have ever been to a cemetery. I think we are missing out by avoiding them. Great pictures, too. Thanks for sharing!


    • Thank you so much. I think it is wonderful that you take your class to a cemetery. What a beautiful lesson for them- it helps to unmask some of what death is about I think. Beautiful to discuss what their lives may have been like.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the guitar headstone. Is there any significance to the stones/rocks on some of the headstones? I noticed some do and some don’t have them. I think this is a beautiful post, Lisa.


    • It is customary when visiting to leave a stone atop the headstone or on the grave. The custom may have originated before markers existed, when stones were the markers. Leaving it signifies someone has visited the grave.


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