Sunday, July 29, 2012

Long Term Forecast

This week marked four years since of Lisa’s passing..

We were in the car driving when I told my girls that the next day was the date Lisa died – no need to give them a longer heads up, not sure what I would want them to do with that information.  I asked the girls what they would like to do.

“Go to the cemetery.”  The six-year-old yelled back quickly. My girls all seemed to have figured out the statistics of: The idea that is shouted out first has a better percentage of being implemented.

Kelly hasn’t asked to go to the cemetery before and hasn’t been since Lisa was buried and she was two.  The response surprised me.

Haley, who is now old enough to sit in the front seat next to me responds, “I don’t want to go to the cemetery.  It freaks me out.  But if you’re going to force me to go, that’s fine.”

Molly says nothing as she is focused on pressing her window button trying to figure out why she can no longer put her window up and down and up and down and up and down.  I waited until her window went back up (after the fifth time) and then hit the lock button right next to me – a power I have yet to reveal to her I possess.

“Haley, I’m not going to force you.  Someday you will be ready, and when you are, you can go….”

“Daaaadddd!” Molly cries.

“I don’t know Molly,” I respond before hearing her question as I know what’s coming. “Maybe the window is tired from going up and down so much and it needs to rest.  Anyway Haley, you can go at your own pace, I will never force you.”

For Haley, this isn’t her time.  It very well may be that her time could be in twenty years.  Maybe there will come a point in her life where she is searching for answers and a trip to visit her mother’s grave will provide some missing pieces.

It’s a reminder for me to be open for all three of them that every now and then, their mourning will show itself.  Even for them now, it’s not an everyday issue, not even an every month issue. But it will always be relevant.

We ended up taking a cousin who at the house with us as well as Molly - who asked as she was putting on her shoes, “Are we going to meet God?”  I told her it was a great question and I would explain how this all works while we were in the car.

I took some paper and markers and the four of us sat around the site and drew pictures.  We collected sticks from the trees nearby and used them as push pins to keep the drawings stuck in the ground.  Pictures of hearts and silly designs now decorate where she lies.

The girls, being kids, asked if they could play tag.  They could get over how much room there was out here.  I was about to say no when the image of Lisa being with us struck me and I thought what a nice way to celebrate her life to let her children run around and laugh.

“DO NOT step on the gravestones on the ground.” I said. 

“Don’t worry dad, I love obstacles,” Kelly said, as they all took off running.

I cringed at the word of obstacles when talking about sacred ground. I am going off the premise that all those who are laid there love the company and have no issues of seeing people who are alive enjoy life.  Little different premise than the movie Poltergeist, but I know how Hollywood likes to sensationalize.

I was happy how my kids treated the day and I was very happy Haley let me know she was not ready for this.  After the cemetery, I took them to Culver’s for dinner and frozen custard.  I picked up Haley along the way, frozen custard she was ready for.  As for the rest, it will be at her pace, whatever that may be.   


  1. Thanks Matt, it is helpful to hear how you parent your girls throughout. Mine are three and I know these things will come up over time.

  2. How wise of you, Matthew, to let your kids be kids. Running and laughing is what they do best, and those memories will stay with them of playing in the cemetery. It is a place to remember those buried there, and Lisa is well remembered and loved. She was watching, I am sure, with a smile. And you are correct, Haley will be ready when she is ready.

    The days and years continue to come at us, I am amazed at time. Day by day it drags by, and all of a sudden it is years since I last physically saw my husband. I am saddened at all that he has missed, but beginning to look back at all that we had with love and gratitude.

  3. Thank you Matthew for telling us what you did in this situation. I have 4, with three still at home. The youngest being not quite two. I worry all the time about how I am going to handle their grief as they get older. I think letting your children run around the cemetary was an excellent idea.

    My husband died just over six months ago and we had a committal service for him a couple of weeks ago. We have only been to his gravesite once. It is still very sad for me. I hope in four years that I can be there with them and feel comfortable with them running around. At this point it is still too sad for me to stay too long. Any other pointers you want to share, please do. It will probably come in handy for me in the future.




  4. Matt, you're doing an amazing job. I remember how much I needed someone to be understanding about my reactions to my mother's death when I was a little girl. I desperately needed that. Thank you for giving your girls such an incredible gift.

  5. Beautiful post Matt - and I think you are doing a great job allowing your kids their own space and time. My youngest, who was 10 when his Dad passed away still avoids the cemetery as much as possible and when he does go he seldom gets out of the car and if he does he never wants to stay long. My youngest daughter, now 17, 13 when Dave died likes to go, but only for brief visits. Not sure how much the oldest 2 go as they are grown, married and we just don't talk about that too much. The only time they all willingly and together is the anniversary when we have a big wiffle ball game and balloon release with friends - my hubby is in a Veterans cemetery that is part of a county park. I think allowing them to play and run is perfect - it takes some of the mystery and taboo out of it that is so common - i think it helps make the kids more comfortable with the topic of death and more willing to talk about it. And I can imagine your wife would much rather see your kids running and having a good time!!! I hope you were able to commemorate the day to your own satisfaction - it is a hard balancing act figuring out what the kids need while still acknowledging your own needs and taking care of them as well.

  6. beautiful. I wept at the idea of markers at a gravesite. I am an artist, and I'm putting together workshops designed to speed and assist healing with art,music, writing, movement, and real love. I don't know why I cried, I think it was just such a sweet touching thought to process at a gravesite with markers... thank you. My love and blessings go to your heart.