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Recently my husband took our girls and me to visit the grave of his grandparents. They died quite some time ago now (in the 80’s) so I never met them, and he was very young himself. But he still wanted to introduce us.

Walking through the cemetery was quite sobering as I took in the vast beauty around me that is so often associated with sadness. Alongside all the graves were hundreds of beautiful rose bushes that were obviously cared for in immense detail.

Red, yellow, white, orange and pink bloomed bright, flowers of all kinds. Tall majestic trees provided shade from the summer sun and there were small windmills reflecting the sunlight and circling slowly in the soft breeze. It created quite a magical scene. Personal notes left by family members and religious artifacts adorned headstones where caretakers walked the rows ensuring everything was in order.

As I strolled through, I noticed a grave of a young man, who it said was a father of two children. He was just 21. It saddened me that not only had someone so young lost their life, but also two children had lost their father and would never really know him. Never know his dad jokes or stories of his own childhood. Never fight with him about curfews or taking the car without asking. Never laugh on summer holidays or share the joy of their weddings.

Walking back to the car we passed a father with two young children, who were no more than four or five, visiting a grave that showed the image of a beautiful young woman. I’ll never know for sure but I presume she was their mother and I think I heard the word ‘mum.’ The father had packed special cookies for the kids and they were there to say hello. This moment seemed so special and I felt like an intruder so hurried past.

In the few seconds it took me to walk past them I saw a whole chapter of their lives that for me, is my worst nightmare, but this dad was keeping their mum part of their daily lives and it seemed most normal for them.

Mortality is something I’m acutely aware of these days and for every decision and event I see varying consequences – it’s exhausting really. The worry of how my husband would cope if something happened to me, and how I would cope if I lost him. And then the obvious – how do children learn about and cope with death, especially when it’s their parent.

These are just a few cases I’ve learnt of recently where a parent has left behind young kids. The thought of not seeing my own kids grow and live their lives scares the hell out of me to be honest. I tell them I love them many times a day and hug them whenever I can, and then some. You just never know…

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  • My Mum died when her Great Grandaughter was about 2 1/2 years old. Unfortunately Missy was too young to remember her. From time to time we all go to the Cemetery to visit her grave, spend some time in contemplation, remove weeds and clean the headstones. The first headstone on the grave is 106 years old. We aren’t able to add any more names and messages to it as there is a strong possibility it may crack. Sadly many graves in the cemetery and many others have been vandalised. It beaks my heart to see the results of such actions/crimes.

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  • This is a beautifully written article. I love walking through cemeteries – you learn so much. I don’t know how families cope when they lose someone so young, especially someone who is a parent to young children.

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  • Life is indeed precious. We should never take our loved ones for granted.

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  • My son never knew my Dad (his Grandfather). We make sure we visit my Dad’s grave each Christmas Eve (the day he passed away, and his birthday) to celebrate his life and tell my son stories of him. My niece was stillborn in the same year that my father died. She would have been 21 this month. My sister invited me to spend time with her at my niece’s grave. We decorated it with lovely ’21’ items and talked about what she had brought to our lives. We then visited the Tea Rooms to talk more. My niece is such an important part of our lives, our family’s history, even though she never lived. We will continue to visit her grave, and talk about her, and remember her.

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  • Yes, it takes a reminder of our own mortality to really appreciate this life.

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  • Yes, this is a real risk for me, and it’s scary.

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  • So true !

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  • Family is precious and none of know what is around the corner. Your article is beautifully written and brought a tear to my eyes. It brought back memories of visiting graveyards when we travelled around Australia and seeing how young were many who were buried in some of these out of the way townships in the early days of this country’s existence. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  • As my own parents get older I begin to think about their mortality, thinking about my kids growing up without parents hurts too much to think about.

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  • A beautifully written article about a topic no-one likes to talk about. Life is short, enjoy every minute

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  • This is so true and we must treasure the treasure we have while we have it, and I’m not speaking material I’m talking about relationships, because we are all unique and special and we need to tell each other we love and care for them. Our friends, family members and be kind to people who aren’t close to us that we pass by in our daily lives, because we never know what we do our say that will help people along their daily path of life.

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  • So true. im always saying “How long is a life?” ….there is no set answer for that question. For some its a matter of hours. Others get a few years and some get to reach 100+. Sometimes we get stuck on the numbers and we thing that its the eldest who will check out next so to speak. I remember my Dad contacting me when i was pregnant with my youngest and he asked if he sent me money could we all come home for Christmas as he felt it would be my Grans (his mothers) last Christmas. Well 4 years on it was my Dad that passed away and Gran was still going strong and lived on to reach 100yrs. She out lived both her children, her husband and a grandchild.

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  • Very true. I think so many have this feeling. Cherish every moment

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  • this is just beautiful. life really is short and taken before we know it. I am so glad that this father takes his children to see their mother, she will live on forever in their hearts. I would be lost if i lost my husband. I dont even want to think about it, and explaining to the children…it would break my heart :(

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  • Life is indeed very precious. It is very hard to think of death.

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