What do you do when you visit the grave of someone special to you?

by | May 12, 2023

Things You Can Do At The Gravesite

What do you do when you visit the grave of someone special to you? Everybody treats a visit to the grave of a loved one differently. Everybody experiences different emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Some family members even wonder why they should visit their relative’s gravesite.  A visit to a cemetery or memorial park can be a time of healing, reflection, catharsis, sharing memories, saying prayers, saying goodbye, or simply a ritual of remembrance. It can be a sad time, a reflective time, a sorrowful time, a painful time, a loving time, even a joyous time. Whatever it is for you, make it a worthwhile time. Taking the time to visit the gravesite of a parent, spouse, family member, or friend is a great opportunity to remind yourself or others that the memory of the deceased is still cherished. Visiting a cemetery is also an opportunity to reflect on your life. 

Here are some suggestions about what you can do when visiting a family gravesite.  

  • Lay a bouquet of flowers on the headstone. 
  • Place a picture of the deceased on the monument. 
  • Plant a flag next to the headstone–especially on Memorial Day or Veterans Day. 
  • Kneel and pray. 
  • Meditate and let healing happen. 
  • Speak lovingly to the deceased.

If you came with family, there are many memories you can share together. 

  • Remember the good times, the laughter, the love, the challenges you faced together. 
  • Share meaningful quotes, recite from the Scriptures. 
  • Have fun, joke around. 
  • Plan for the future, reflect on the past. 
  • Discuss each other’s state of health and reflect on your own mortality. 
  • Play a favorite song that you used to enjoy together


What to do When Visiting a Cemetery:

To read more under each category click on the green toggle button to the right of each category.

Gather for a Family Picnic

Spend the afternoon at your loved one’s gravesite by having a family picnic. You can make your loved one’s favorite dishes or their famous recipes that everyone loves. While you’re there, you can decorate the grave and share happy memories and funny stories about your loved one. Don’t forget a blanket.

Stroll Around the Cemetery Grounds

After reflecting on your loved one’s memorial, take a stroll around the cemetery grounds and see how other people are memorialized. You may come upon the graves of families you know! Personalized epitaphs, inscriptions, etchings, and engravings make every memorial unique and special. 

What can you find? 

  • What is the oldest monument or date that you can locate? 
  • Look for special symbols on the monuments or gravestones such as angels, flowers, special animals, photographs, symbols found on veteran’s stones that represent the branch of military service they were in. (Navy, Army, Marine Corp, Coast Guard, Air Force) 
  • What is the largest/tallest monument you can find? 
  • What special monuments can you find?

Take in the beauty of nature that surrounds you—the trees, the birdsongs, even the landscape of granite memorials in all their different shapes, sizes, and colors.     

To find a list of some of the most commonly found symbols click here.

Clean the Monument

Before you leave, check on the condition of your loved one’s granite headstone. It takes thousands of years for a quality granite monument to show any signs of deterioration. However, it can quickly become soiled or stained, gather moss or mildew, collect animal droppings or leaves and twigs. Come prepared to clean the monument and beautify the plot. Cemeteries cut the grass and trim the area around the gravestone and plot, but it is up to you to keep the monument looking beautiful. Whisk off the dirt, sticks, and grass. Bring some soap and water and a rag and clean the monument.

Marker Rubbings

Making a rubbing of the stone should only be done if the stone is in good condition, and solidly secure on the site. Again, remember to check the cemetery rules to see if this is okay. 


You brought your camera, right? Remember that part of the point of making a photo of the marker is to be able to read it later. You may not know the condition of the stone before you go. In some cases, the writing on the stone maybe very difficult to read, so taking a photo that can be read may be a challenge. Squirting the stone with water is the safest way to help illuminate the writing, and is surprisingly effective. 

Photographs can help a researcher or other family member experience the feeling of visiting the cemetery. Visiting a grave is sometimes the closest you can get to meeting a relative. Many people don’t get the chance to visit their relative’s gravesite, and a photograph or two can be the next best thing to being there. 

Create a Memorial Post

For those who prefer to memorialize and grieve your loved one online, you can take a photo of your loved one’s gravesite and create a touching social media post. It can feature the new decorations, cleanliness, your picnic, or your loved one’s gravestone. If you’d rather keep the photo more private, you can just share it with family and friends in a private message. 

When to Visit

Visit the gravesite anytime you are compelled to do so. Of course there are the special times when people are more likely to go to a cemetery. These days are: 

  • Memorial Day 
  • Christmas Day 
  • Your wedding anniversary 
  • A  birthday 
  • The anniversary of the death 
  • Veterans Day 
  • Easter Sunday 
  • Thanksgiving 
  • Fourth of July 
  • The day of a special event you shared together 
  • Mother’s Day 
  • Father’s Day 
  • Valentine’s Day 
There are so many reasons to visit the gravesite of a loved one, so many things you can do while you are there, and so many ways to help you reconnect with one you’ve lost. Experience this special place, this heartfelt moment, and this very personal memorial each year, every year. This way, you will keep the wonderful memories of one you shared your life with…alive!