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Relationship or Bond with the Deceased

Continuing a relationship with the deceased can take many forms. What is visiting a grave if it isn’t continuing a relationship? The tending of the grave in particular demonstrates a need to look after, to care for, the person who has died. After all, what else can we do? Such behaviour in a burial ground is considered perfectly normal by society even years after the death. But of course many deceased people do not have a grave so the bereaved relatives have to be innovative if they need to continue their bond with the deceased. A few examples here may be helpful but this list is not meant to be exhaustive:-

  • A crematorium Book of Remembrance
  • Having cremated remains in an urn at home
  • Having cremated remains made into items of jewellery that can be worn
  • Internet based memorial sites
  • Using a spiritual medium to make contact with the deceased
  • Writing ‘in memoriam’ notices in the local press
  • Talking to the deceased.

In other cultures there are all sorts of rituals that embrace the same need for continuing the relationship/bond: in a number of Mediterranean countries it is traditional to exhume the bones of the deceased, inspect them for cleanliness and reinter them into the family Charnel House. Similar practice is thought to have widely existed in pre-historic times when our ancestors were buried into rooms of Long Barrows and probably exhumed and taken by the relatives as and when they moved on.

Some of these practices may appear odd to those who have not suffered the loss of someone very close to them and of course they are idiosyncratic to a society or culture. What they certainly are not is pathological or wrong in any way at all – they simply answer a need that is deep inside of us as human beings and defies logical explanation.

If you feel a need to continue liaising with the person who has died, then do it and do so in whatever way you feel is right for you. Don’t feel silly about it and don’t be persuaded that you should stop it. You probably will stop in your own good time, but if you don’t, then good for you and good for the person who has died.….s/he was obviously a great person and worthy of your care!