In some cultures, visiting the dead is regarded as unnecessary and may even be frowned upon. Bedouins bury their dead in unmarked graves with no names. They believe the body does not represent the soul or the actual person and should not be regarded with any importance. The body is merely the shell and should not be revisited once discarded.

I once discussed this point with a friend from Qatar and asked what they would do if they ever wanted to pay their respects to a loved one, and his answer was that we remember them in our prayers, that’s all. He understood that culturally, we are different and went on to explain that more than 50% of people from around the world cremate their loved ones, and the majority of those disperse the ashes. In this practice, the body is gone and cannot be revisited. This is not too dissimilar to burying in unmarked graves as far as he was concerned.

I found myself with more questions than answers. Can we ‘forget’ our once-loved ones in this manner and move on? Should we learn to focus on the soul of the person and come to accept that the body has served its purpose?

I find great healing in visiting the graves of my loved ones. I know that they are in a better place, but that is where I see the closest Earthly connection with them. It allows me to pay my respects, express my love, pray, and heal. I am not honouring the ‘body’ but paying homage to a loved one, whoever and wherever they may be.

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