A couple of years ago, my sister passed away. As a long time resident of the South Bay, she had given her husband instructions to have her buried at Green Hills Memorial Park. It made sense, but it also compelled me to wonder how most people choose (or should choose) something as important as an eternal resting place.
Why do most people choose one cemetery over another, or over none at all?
Patty had lived in the South Bay for 40 years. She drove down Western Avenue dozens of times, sometimes even with her young children. She also attended many burials of friends and family taking place at Green Hills. Somehow it was the only thing that felt “familiar” in a process that is as unknown and unfamiliar as death.
She was also active in business and in the community. Green Hills was a big supporter of local charities and business organizations that she also supported. She had come across staff, mailers, benches, and charities that displayed the Green Hills’ name and its nearly 70 years as a neighbor. It was familiar.
She had attended events, including theater and an autumn event with her granddaughter who twirled as she pretended that the green hills were part of the Alps from the Sound of Music.
Upon her first birthday since her passing, I was grateful that Patty chose to be buried at a cemetery; and at one near me. We had always gathered for lunch and I would give her a gift. Now, I didn’t have that opportunity. My day felt empty; but having a nearby place to go to on her birthday, and where I could take flowers somehow filled my day. I had somewhere to go.
That same day, by nephew mentioned taking his young kids to visit. The idea of reverence and remembrance beyond one generation was comforting.
I appreciated that I could visit on my own. That there wasn’t an urn at my brother-in-law’s house, or that from a distant hill I would have to look out and associate my sister with being somewhere in the immensity of the ocean.
It is frightening to feel that our loves ones may be completely gone. Having a familiar and trustworthy place I can visit in the same neighborhood that Patty chose to live in, and with years of heritage and investment, makes me feel more rooted.