Monday, October 12, 2009

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Okay, so the title may not really fit, but I love me some Jimmy Buffett, and this is my blog so I can name this post whatever I want right? Plus it is better than the alternative, "Crazy Woman Wants to Dig up Her Babies' Remains" Right?

Things here at the Bolte household have been as fast and furious as ever. We are at a difficult spot in life, but are trying to remain focused on the gifts the Lord has given us knowing this life is not all there is.

Our days are filled with matchbox cars, Geotrax, and Dinosaur Train. Intermixed with household duties, baby giggles, and naps. Yet, somehow grief sneaks in sometimes knocking the wind right out of me. I look around me and know I am blessed. Luke is always looking for snuggles, Ben is always making me laugh so hard I cry, and Hope, well she warms my heart and reminds me of just what is possible with our Lord. Those kids are perfect for this family and I love them to pieces.

I am brought to tears of gratitude at the end of most days as I look at my sleeping beauties. (don't tell the boys I referred to them that way) It is true that this far into my grief journey that I function better than before and with each passing week though I miss Isaac and Asher just as much as I ever did, I find myself leaning harder on God which in turn takes a bit of the sting away.

Lately I have been having one huge struggle. It deals with the cemetery. When the boys died we chose to have their bodies cremated, but I could not stand the thought of an urn holding baby ashes in our home. So, we chose to have their ashes buried at the cemetery. I thought I needed that place to go and feel close to them. A place that was theirs, they would never claim a room in our home so I thought the least I could do was give them each a space of their own. So we purchased burial plots (does anyone ever think they will be purchasing one baby cemetery plot, let alone two?) and we ordered Isaac's headstone.

Isaac's headstone sits upon that hill alone. This is where I struggle. I have most of the money for Asher's headstone. It was graciously given to us and is sitting in an account all it's own. And yet each time I go to make the order I am stopped in my tracks. I had trouble ordering Isaac's stone. It all made things seem so final and it was so hard for me, so I thought that this feeling, this roadblock was the same, and yet I have recently discovered that it is not.

You see my ideas have changed and I am stuck. I desperately wish we had never chosen to have the boys buried. I wish we had an urn here at home or had scattered their ashes somewhere beautiful. I have come to hate the cemetery. I mean HATE. I don't go there ever. I know for some people it provides a place for them to feel close to their loved ones and for all people grief is different and if that helps I say it is awesome. For me it is holding me back.

When I visit the cemetery it makes me focus on death. The fact that the boys are not here takes over my brain and I lose sight of everything else. At home and in every day life I try to focus on the fact that they live and that because they have eternal life, this is not the end. In day to day life I am able to see the beauty they brought to this family, this world, and yet at the cemetery, I see a final resting place, and though I know it is not FINAL by any means it plays nasty tricks on my mind and gets me down. So, I don't go.

Which brings its own set of issues. This means that there are two little boy's resting places up on a hill in a cemetery that is mostly uncared for. Asher's gravestone has yet to be ordered and there are likely weeds all around. This really gets to me a lot. I used to go up to care for Isaac's spot and wonder why all of the other baby plots were so bare. I mean, didn't their parents miss them and want to take care of them? Until now, now I see. Now I cannot bring myself to go and care for my boys' spots because it sucks the wind out of me all over again. It points my eyes and my focus downward instead of up where they belong and it is hard for me to shift my focus after being there. (this may sound crazy, I am just keepin it real)

Last night I finally shared all of this with Howard. I thought he would think I was nuts. He didn't, or maybe he just hid it well. I started the conversation with "I want to go have Isaac and Asher's ashes dug up". Starting a conversation like that I am pretty sure gets the attention of the listener. :) I explained pretty much what I have tried to explain here telling him that I felt like the cemetery thing was really holding me back and he nodded and said, "but YOU wanted the cemetery plots Kristy. You said you needed that for your grief." He is right. I did. I have grown and changed. I don't need or want that anymore. I want Isaac and Asher to live on through us and I want to remember them everywhere and in all things. I just don't need the pressure of keeping up appearances at a fake spot where instead of feeling close to them I feel as far away as I have ever been.

Now none of this is to say I think it is bad to have a cemetery plot. I think it works for a lot of people. It gives them a place to go to remember and be close to their loved ones. Grief is so different for all people I think that whatever you have to do to deal with it is just fine. I know for a lot of families cemetery visits are helpful and comforting and that is great. I just don't feel that way for myself. If I had my way about it, I would dig up both boys bring their ashes home and scatter them at the lake or something and donate their plots to other families who needed that space and the money for Asher's gravestone to another grieving family to purchase a stone for their own child if that would be helpful for them.

I am not even sure if any of that is possible, but if I had my way, this is what I would do. I am tired of giving death such a hold on my life. I am determined to focus on life. Isaac and Asher lived. They were here and they were real. They changed hearts and they changed lives. They continue to live on and astound us and there is nothing final about that. I feel like the whole cemetery thing pulls me back to thinking about the finality of their physical death and that is not where my eyes need to focus.


25 comments:

Susan said...

I have never commented but have been reading for a while. I hope it is OK to share my experiences.

We knew we did not want a grave-site for all those reasons you mentioned for our son, who died of cancer. When he died we had him cremated and his remains sat in a box, inside a shopping bag in my closet for 3 months until it was time for me to get to my sweaters underneath and I couldn't avoid my closet anymore. We had thought we would have an urn in our house, out for us to see. As it turned out, we didn't want that at all! However, we felt we had to do something that was respectful with his ashes. We ended up putting them at the cemetary, in a columbarium, which is a structure buit to hold cremated remains. We purchased a drawer in it and his name is engraved on the granite front. They cemetary does the upkeep. We can take them out, for a fee, if we ever want to move them or scatter them, but meanwhile they are safe. I have only been there twice in two years. He is not there. We may yet move his remains - I feel better knowing itis a reasonable option.

All that said, I say to you, you must do what feels right to you! You do not need the guilt you are feeling by not visiting nor the dread of visiting. Having their ashes removed is not crazy nor unheard of. I totally understand that your feelings have changed. It makes sense to me and I think will make sense to a lot of other grieving parents out there. It may not make sense to other people but that is not your concern. you must do what feels right to you. I hope you can work out exactly what that is.

Susan

Rebecca said...

Before I read the part about your conversation with Howard, I was already thinking 'Dig them up'. You really should, Kristy! Even though that's what you thought you wanted in the beginning, there's no shame in changing your mind now. It seems like it would be a way to continue to honor & celebrate their lives, especially considering the feelings you now associate with the cemetery. It wouldn't hurt just to check into it, would it? I love the idea of donating the plots & the money to other families in need. THAT sounds like a truly amazing testimony for Isaac & Asher to have added to their legacy. You wouldn't even have to limit spreading their ashes to one place; you could spread them in places where you go as a family so that they really are everywhere!

I hope you decide on something that brings you joy, instead of the dread the cemetery brings.

Sara said...

Kristy- That is funny your bring up this topic. I am having the opposite problem. We had Garrett cremated and his ashes are in an urn in the curio cabinet in my room. It's Garrett's cabinet. All his things are in there plus other things we were given or I got in his memory. It's actually getting quite full. But lately I have wanted to bury him- to have a place to go; to decorate on his birthday and holidays. I suppose I could do that with the cabinet. I do decorate a tree for him at Christmas. But I feel I am some how left out on that part of grieving for a child. However for financial reason (and the fact my husband won't agree to it) he remains in my room. Once the girls get older and stopped touching everything in sight, we'll move it to the living room. But its safer in my room now;) I have had other parents tell me they never visit the cemetery where their child is at for a variety of reasons and they tell me they wished they had done what we did. So maybe what we did was the best thing in the long run.

It will be 5 years in December and I am thinking of getting a tree and planting it in his memory. I tried to start a butterfly flower garden, but too much rain killed all the flowers so maybe a tree would be better.

It's hard no matter what you do. Good luck with your decision.

Laurie in Ca. said...

Oh Kristy, I have to tell you that my heart agrees with you 100% on this and if it is possible for you to do, then I say go for it. Everyone's grief is so individual and personal, no two alike. Follow your heart and do what is right for you sweetie. But I was already thinking the same thing:) And maybe plant two very special trees or bushes on your property that represent life and you can watch them grow. I love you girl.

Love and Hugs, Laurie

Michelle said...

Thanks for sharing Kristy. I learn so much 'perspective' from you and your words. Do what your heart is telling you to do. I always admire you for putting your thoughts and feelings in writing to share with us.

asplashofsunshine said...

Our stories may differ like night and day, but I appreciate what you bring into my life. I gain perspective on life, on parenting, on breathing, on marriage, and as hard as it is to admit, God too. (God and I have a struggling relationship. Ughh, did I just admit that?!)

I hope no matter what you do, I hope you can find peace in your decision. Trust yourself, and surround yourself with love and support. I think you already have that, and deserve every bit of love you receive. You are a fantastic woman!!!

malibukat said...

i don't know what the right answer is for you and i admire your truth and honesty. but i just have to ask a flip side question for your consideration. what if you scatter the ashes some place and then wish you had not.
pray for wisdom.

Penny said...

I have not lost a child, nor had a loved one cremated, so if you don't give my thoughts much consideration I would understand. I am NOT a cemetery person. I get fussed by members of my family for not putting flowers on grandparents and other family members graves, but they are NOT there (my opinion). My cousin and I buried a man that we could not have loved more (her dad and my uncle). It helps her to go to her dad's grave and "take care of him." I'd rather think of him when I see a horse, horse trailer, a rodeo, or a barn. I love and cherish my memories of Uncle Harry, my grandparents, brothers, and other family members. The cemetery does not make me feel closer to them. Like you, it makes me feel the opposite. God speed on the right decision for you.

stephanie said...

I love what Becki wrote,she signed as Rebecca. You could spread their ashes everywhere, that sounds beautiful. I do agree with you, and I don't think you're crazy or anything either. I think you need to do whatever is right for you and your family. Everyone grieves differently.

Marie said...

Wow, that was really thought provoking. I personally have always hated the idea of cremation (I hate the idea of burning) and prefer a burial place I can visit, so interesting to hear from your point of view. I'm not sure what the rules on digging up ashes are...you could look into it I'm sure. Perhaps scatter them, or build a special memorial in your garden that you can visit daily?

mama2lsa said...

I just stumbled upon your blog tonight as I was researching "The Gap" that you mentioned in your blog awhile back. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I wish we (ie. grieving parents) didn't feel like we needed to decided everything so quickly after our children die. My daughter died on a Sunday and her graveside funeral was on Tuesday but because it was so soon they couldn't release the body for buriel until Thursday. So, we had to go back out 2 days later for the "burial". I ordered the headstone after about 4 months and was really looking forward to being there in person when it arrived and when it was set. Neither of these things happened. I was out of town for 5 days and when I came home the stone arrived and was set already. This was a big source of extra grief I really didn't need.

We really do change as we walk along this road, and I can totally see me, like you, digging up my baby! Do what feels right for you and your husband. Allow some more time to process this new possibility and just keep talking about it. You will get a really good sense of what is right for you guys!

Great insight and honesty, I will definitly be back.

Blessings,
Kim

Emily said...

I <3 your honesty. The cemetery is a double-edged sword, for sure. Can't Jesus just come back already?

Anonymous said...

I don't have any advice for what you should do.

But I do know a little bit about "digging up" graves.
It is possible. My father-in-law and niece were buried in the same place. My nieces father wanted her dug up and brought to a cemetery near where he lived. He has since passed away and is buried in the same plot. My mother-in-law had my father-in-law's ashes dug up at the same time. Years later my mother-in-law died and the task of taking care of her husbands ashes fell to us. We buried him in the wall of one of the California Missions with his son. It is a very nice place although we really don't visit often. We had to apply for a state permit as the previous permit said his resting place was at the house. So, at least in California, it is possible to do this, but it is necessary to get the proper paperwork filed and pay the fees).

Bobbie said...

Kristy, do what feels right for you. This is a hard decision and I can understand where you are coming from. When Johnathan passed away, I was at the cemetary all the time. For hours. I just couldn't leave him. I thought that he still needed me. It took a long time for my heart to catch up with my head. I knew he wasn't there, that just his body was, but, I just couldn't leave him. If they would have let me set up a tent and sleep there, I would. Now, a little over two years later, I barely go out there. I hardly ever decorate. I do sometimes feel guilty but, I told God to let JT know that I love him but, it is just to hard for me to go out there. It did take me a long while to realize I wasn't abandoning him. How could I when he is where he is loved and taken care of? I needed to set my eyes up and keep looking up. You are right though every time I went there my eyes were down. So, now, I look to the clouds. because some where up there our babies are all dancing on those clouds. And I truely believe that. So, whether you decided to scatter their ashes or leave them where they are, they are always right there in your heart. Whatever decision you make it will be the right one just remember that. (((HUGS))) and prayers. love ya!

Bobbie

Coach's Wife said...

I hope you never feel like you need to apologize to any of your blog readers for feeling the way you do! Girl, you have every right to your feelings. And as far as thinking crazy thoughts, you had to let 2 of your precious boys go to heaven, I admire you for keeping it together as well as you are! Talk to the cemetery and see what they require. It can be done, the cemetery here actually buried my grandpa in the wrong place. When he passed my grandma bought 2 plots. They buried him and when they placed the headstone it was backwards. Theycould turn it because the names wouldn't line up and I don't know what else. They covered the cost in that since it was their fault, but not something I dealt with well. Point being, go ask!!! I really feel this is something you have already decided to be what u need to heal a little more. If anyone can't understand why you did this, or make you feel you owe an apology, they need to step away from your blog and pray. Keep lovin those babies and leaning on God!

Mrs. H said...

I share your ambivalence. When we had our son cremated, we decided against a plot. My first thought was to sprinkle his ashes when planting a tree in his honor on our property. However, when it came time to plant the tree, I couldn't part with his tiny bag of ashes. They are all I have left of him (quite literally). While they're not on display or in an urn, etc., they are in a dresser drawer with all the cards we received with his loss, a photo book, and his little baby hat. I would feel as if I lost him all over again when it came time to move from this house/property and left behind his tree/ashes.
It's different, but instead of a spot (i.e. a cemetery plot or even his tree out back) I specifically remember Nathan when listening to certain songs that carried me through my early grief or spend time rocking in the rocking chair that was in his room-to-be. For me, there's not a need for a place, but rather just a need to not forget of his existence (esp. with a new one on the way).
It is different, though, the stages we walk through and the processing that happens that changes perspective and needs during our grief walk. There's no way you could have anticipated what you now need/feel. Thank you for your transparency.

Linda said...

Praying for you as you press through this tough decision. Praying for your heart to be at peace.

Melissa Dovel said...

Kristy,

I always read your posts but due to the hardships going on in my life I dont blog anymore. I know that I can not see this through your eyes but I can tell you it bugs me every day that my mom is burried over a 1,000 miles away and lays in the ground I have bad dreams about it the whole 9 yards ive not been their since the day she was burried. Again not pretending to even know what that would feel like with one of my children. Is all I can offer is pray for the Lord to truly release you and Howard on your choices. I agree with lots of points that different commenters have made. I dont think that any one choice will ever be perfect. Perfect would be having them here. You need peace not finding the best place. I hope I did not overstep boundries. One commenter said how it was a shame to have to make a choice of what to do so soon after they are gone from this earth and that is very true. You boys are alive and well and their spirit is always with you. They are never far away God will freely hand them to you as you go do Heaven. I dont know if I helped or just blurted all over the place. I will as always be praying for my friend the mommy blogger Kristy who has been blessed with 5 beautiful children and walks each day with 2 of them in Heaven.


You are a blessing to many and I pray as you continue to walk through life that Asher and Issac further their testimony as loved and prayed for children of God.

with much admiration,
Melissa

Lisa said...

Go where YOUR heart leads you.

Jason & Vanessa said...

What a great and heartflet post! I wish I had some advice for you but I don't. I just wanted to let you know I will be praying that you guys are able to make the best choice for your family. It is so heartbreaking that we are "friends" because of the children we have lost but I am very blessed by your friendship! Love you girl get some rest and don't make a decision until you are ready!

Love,
Vanessa

Hilary said...

praying for you as you and Howard decide what to do. I really hope it is possible for you to bring your boys back home...

Erika said...

Kristy, it is awful that we have to make decisions that will be so long-lasting when we are going through the most difficult pain of our lives.

we decided to have our twin girls cremated, and their urns are in our bedroom. it's so hard to make a decision when you are in grief, and i can absolutely understand why you would not want to go to the cemetary now.

my grandmother had a baby who died at 3 months old, and was buried in the late 1950s. In the late 1990s, she wanted her moved to the family burial plot 12 states away...so they did. so i know it is possible to have a body exhumed. i think you could have that done and then have the remains placed in an urn or you could spread them in the place of your choosing.

many hugs to you...

-Erika
littletinyfootprints.blogspot.com
funfinns.blogspot.com

Faith said...

Saw this and thought if you.
http://betheglory.blogspot.com/2009/10/why-must-we-pray.html

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Kristy,

I can so relate to your feelings about the cemetary. I rarely visit for the same reasons you shared. My Faith, Grace, and Thomas are alive in heaven. I prefer to focus on their lives...not on death. It is just not a place of comfort to me. Although I know that it is to some. I am so grateful that you shared your heart on this. Praying for peace and direction...

Love to you...

Lori said...

My grief is new...a month old. Yet I feel like I know exactly what you are talking about...I haven't been to the gravesite yet--mostly because I was recovering from an emergency c-section and then because we've had snow on top of snow--but I don't relish the thought of going because I know it will suck the life out of me, just as you wrote. At the time, I couldn't even fathom my perfect angel being cremated, but now, though I still can't stand the thought of it, I can say that I'd almost rather have that than a tangible place that will just leave me wanting my arms filled with something I can't have...and one I'l feel obligated to keep up,no less.

It's so hard. Bless you for sharing thoughts that I know I can certainly relate to.