When someone in your family dies, you’re immediately confronted with a host of suffocating decisions to make. Choosing a burial place is one of them. Many of us have to navigate this at some point, either for ourselves or for our loved ones. But there’s a unique cruelty when you have to make this choice as a parent.
Though we had months to prepare, no amount of anticipation could ease the pain of deciding where to bury our son. But we were determined to honor his life with every detail and decision.
There was a factor in our choice that increased the weight of it. The circumstances of choosing Eli’s resting place meant that we were also deciding on our own. The Watkins family plot has been purchased and marked. My wife and I know exactly where we will be buried one day: alongside each other and alongside our son.
I imagine that this is rare for people, especially in their twenties. Most of us are not familiar with the ground of our own grave. But this is part of our story.
I could see a sobering fact like this impacting people in two primary ways. On the one hand, it could motivate someone to live more fully because “life is too short.” On the other hand, one could be haunted by their own burial place because “death is too real.”
Both of these reactions would be understandable. But for me neither is true. As I consider the exact location of my own grave, I’m not moved with motivation or paralyzed by dread.
I am solemnly filled with honor.
It is a somber privilege to know that one day I will share the same hallowed ground with my firstborn son.
I don’t expect everybody to understand this, as it’s heavy and unfamiliar territory for many. And I’m fully aware that people might think this is too morbid to think about, as we understandably try to keep death at a distance.
But as a father chronically plagued by what my son and I will never have together, the opportunity to share something–anything–with him is immeasurably sacred.