….so precious. I say this cause recently we have had another death in the family. My husband’s grandmother, Omi has passed away. She had lived a long life to 89 years but lost her battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She had been in a home for several years, so I am happy that her spirit is free and her energy is back within the universe.
In the last year I have been to three funerals and known at least four deaths from family and friends. I think the hardest part about getting older is seeing these events unfold in front of your eyes and knowing that there will always be more to come. Coming from a big family helps a bit when gathering together after a death. It helps you to feel that you are not alone. This for me was an adjustment, moving to a small family in Germany from a big family in the states. It has been difficult not having the support of a big family to lean on. Having many people with noise around to distract from the sadness ultimately helps in the grieving process, and not having that is a foreign feeling to me.
When I think about the comparisons from the states and here, it’s a bit different. The pain and grief will always be the same but how they respect life after death seems nicer. I have been to the cemetery here more than ever before. I have noticed that during the holidays people walk the village streets with candles to put alongside the grave of the deceased. The graves are adorn with flowers and figurines. The only gardeners you will find here are the ones that tend to the grave itself, not the ones that cut your grass like in the U.S.
I find that the cemeteries here are beautiful, with mini personalize gardens, reflecting the person who sits below the earth. They are well taken care of, most of them. And either taken care of by a family member, or paying for one of these gardeners to tend to it, changing the flowers with the seasons. I also noticed that every time we go, you are not alone. Someone is always there visiting, cleaning the dead foliage, or placing a candle near by. The cemeteries only “rent” the graves for 20 years I found out. If you do not renew the contract, the remains are removed. I heard that just before the contract ends, a sticker is placed on the headstone. In double graves, people are placed on top of each other. When the second body is added, the 20 years start over again. I believe that they have become accustomed to this due to the limited space.
I found it interesting that almost, if not all German’s place an obituary in the paper. My mother-in-law says that most people buy or read this one particular newspaper just to see who has passed. So we placed one in the newspaper too. The day of the funeral there is a service in the church, with the casket in center. Afterward, we walked behind the coffin with the minister to the cemetery. The coffin is then lowered right into the grave and the minister says some words and throws down the first shovel of earth, followed by everyone who is present. Afterwards our family provided “Beerdigungskuchen” which is coffee and cake.
It was a cold but peaceful day and our family was happy with the service. Even though we lost Omi, we all believe that she is free and in a much happier space.
Rest in peace forever, Maria Jordan