My stepfather died nearly a year ago and today was his unveiling. This is an old tradition that signifies the end of mourning. The headstone is literally “revealed” after its gauze has been dramatically ripped away. Because of the time that has passed, the energy is a bit different than a funeral. There is still grief, but hopefully some perspective has been gained and life is reaffirmed.
The rabbi spoke of my stepfather’s positive attributes and how they can can serve as inspiration for all of us. Some prayers were chanted. We placed stones on his headstone and visited other gravesites in the cemetery where we placed stones as well, a sign of the impact of these individuals, though they have passed, still alive in some of our memories.
It was good to reconnect with family and friends, some of whom traveled a significant distance to attend the unveiling today. Though formal mourning has ended and the headstone is revealed, unveilings also show how those closest to the deceased have survived the year and the inner strengths some were able to muster to do so. This is especially true of my mother, who with the help of her children has rediscovered and reanimated some relative independence and self-sufficiency. She is quite compromised by Parkinson’s and has had to move into an assisted living situation since my stepfather’s passing. Though it may have been her husband’s unveiling today, it was also an acknowledgement of my mother’s courage, flexibility, intellectual and emotional capacities, her ability to handle a difficult and complex transition, and her great great humility.