The Story of The Pink Carnations

There are others who walk this path, and I am comforted by their pain because I know they understand. They don’t judge or try to minimize my feelings.


After I secured a spot for my Pops and before his marker was placed, I visited the cemetery daily. It bothered me greatly that part of him was there but unmarked; no name or sentiment etched in memory to tell everyone he was there. I would visit and run my fingers over the nameless square of stone, blank and cold. I would go there, and I would cry. Every. Single. Day. I didn’t want to go; I needed to go. I needed Pops to know that he was thought of, remembered, and loved. I needed him to know that he mattered – he still matters.


About a week into the long wait for his name marker I met a man. I was standing by a tree, looking at the blank stone marker and I was crying. The man inquired about my reason for being there, and I told him about my Pops. I told him about how kind he was and how much I missed him. I told him how Pops died and how guilty I felt. He asked me Pops’ name and birthdate. He repeated it, making sure he had the spelling correct, and I continued with my sharing. The man listened intently and as tears filled his eyes I stopped talking because I could tell the man had his own pain, and I felt it was my turn to listen.

The man told me of his wife, Sylvia. He told me of their life together and of their love for each other. He told me how he came to choose the spot of Sylvia’s final resting place and although it is not my story to tell I can share with you that it is a beautiful story and truly a special love they have.

The man then proceeded to share with me how he visited daily, living only a short distance from the cemetery and how he tended to the ‘forgotten.’ He waters the wilting flowers left along the windy path of our loved ones. He described his feeling of distaste at the sight of knocked over arrangements, and his sadness for the people who had no flowers left for them. He is the guardian for our space, the space that holds two people who never knew each other but came to dwell in the same area after their departure from this earth. As I listened to him I was filled with a sense of peace for I realized that now someone else knew where my Pops rested. Someone else knew and spoke his name. Someone else knew that my Pops matters. I’ve seen the man a few times since our initial meeting, and he always has a hug and a kind word for me.


Sylvia loved pink carnations – they were her favorite. I pass her spot on the way to Pops every week during my visit the cemetery. She always has fresh pink carnations – not just one vase full, but three. A few weeks ago I began sharing one of Pops’ flowers with Sylvia. Bella and I always stop and say hello to her and top-off the water in her vases. Today on the way in Bella commented that the daisies we left last week were still in one of her vases. I smiled to myself and noticed that they had been pruned and shortened to fit perfectly among the pink carnations. When I reached Pops’ spot, there in his vase were two beautiful pink carnations. I began to cry but not from sadness this time. I cried tears of joy so thankful that someone else, our guardian, had been there to spend a moment with Pops.

Grief is a lonely journey, and at times I am overwhelmed by the solitary nature of grieving. Then comes a beautiful moment like seeing those pink carnations today and I am reminded that I am not walking this road alone. There are others who walk this path, and I am comforted by their pain because I know they understand. They don’t judge or try to minimize my feelings. They just water my Pops flowers and add pink carnations to his vase.


#youmatter #stopsuicide #grief #transferofpain

© R.J. Belle and Transfer Of Pain, 2017, 2016

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