How to Care for a Loved Ones' Resting Place in the Winter
Winter can be a difficult season for anyone who has lost a loved one, whether their loss is recent or not. Winter is a time for holiday celebrations and these celebrations often remind us of those we have lost during our lifetime. The empty seats at holiday dinner tables or memories sparked by favorite songs or holiday traditions can be sad and bittersweet. There is another element to consider during the wintertime as well: caring for a loved ones’ resting place during what might be a cold, snowy winter season.
Preventing snow and ice damage
If you live in a colder climate, then snow and ice may accumulate on the grave site over the course of the winter season. Over time, snow and ice could potentially damage a headstone or other grave marker. If you are able to make it to the cemetery during the wintertime, you will want to consider visiting after heavy snowfall in order to clear away heavy snow or remove thick ice accumulation. If you aren’t able to access the cemetery due to physical or distance limitations, you will want to consider covering your loved ones’ stone with winter covers before the winter weather sets in. If you have an AFTR camera system in place, you can easily see whether or not your loved ones’ resting place needs to be cleared.
Gravesite blankets are more common in colder climates than in areas with warm weather. The traditional idea behind gravesite blankets is to symbolically tuck in our loved ones and keep them warm throughout the winter season. Gravesite blankets also allow for seasonally appropriate flowers and foliage to decorate our loved ones’ resting place; most gravesite blankets are made with pine and other winter-hardy plants, which prevents them from spoiling and keeps them looking beautiful all season long. Many cemeteries have gravesite blanket options available as part of their cemetery experience, so you may receive a gravesite blanket inquiry form before the winter weather sets in. If the cemetery doesn’t have this option, ask about their policies regarding outside grave blankets. Most cemeteries will allow them as long as they don’t interfere with the regular grounds-keeping duties of the cemetery’s caretakers.
Seasonal items and expressions
The winter holiday season is often filled with the memories of those we have lost. One way that we can memorialize our loved ones is by including them in the holiday season in small yet special ways. Making their favorite recipes for holiday dinners; setting out a plate for them so we can reflect on their loss; and, in the case of their resting place, decorating it with seasonal items or otherwise engaging in seasonal expressions. If you celebrate Christmas, setting up Christmas decorations or even playing your loved ones’ favorite holiday songs at their grave site--in person or through the AFTR system’s speaker features--can help you work through your loss during this difficult season.
Caring for your loved ones’ resting place during the winter--both physically and in your hearts--can help you as you process the difficult feelings that come with experiencing a winter season without your loved one.