Responsibilities to Ancestors


#1

Someone is into genealogy. This someone has found the gravesite of an ancestor who has been dead nearly 100 years. Apparently, there is not much of a marker on the grave or it has deteriorated to such a point that she feels the stone needs to be replaced, so she has decided to purchase a new headstone. She has not asked for money for the stone, but she feels it is the responsibility and duty of family members who live in the same state to visit the gravesite and to be present for a ceremony when the new headstone is set. Neither she nor any living family members ever knew the deceased. Regardless, she thinks the deceased should be honored and respect should be shown by having descendants present for the ceremony. She is pleased with those who have shown interest in being present. She is disappointed and puzzled by those who are not enthusiastic or who have shown no interest in this project.

So, CAF, does anyone here have any opinions about this scenario that they would like to share? Is this interesting to contemplate or not? Discuss amongst yourselves, please.:)


#2

[quote="SwizzleStick, post:1, topic:253795"]
......She is disappointed and puzzled by those who are not enthusiastic or who have shown no interest in this project....

[/quote]

This could describe any one of us!

We are disappointed and puzzled by those we know and love when they show little or no enthusiasm for (INSERT PERSONAL INTEREST HERE). When someone is passionate about something it can be difficult, painful even when others don't share that interest. How wonderful that she wants to honor someone in this way, it is nice but I certainly don't see any moral obligation for family members to attend the ceremony or contribute financially. She probably won't see it that way and will be disappointed and will be hard to convince her otherwise. God bless.


#3

As someone who is interested in geneology I can somewhat understand her feelings and motives. It is a nice gesture of her to replace the grave marker of her ancestor, but I don't think it is necessary. I also find it unreasonable to insist others go to a service for someone none of them ever knew. If they want to go that is fine, but I think she's being a bit dramatic.


#4

[quote="freethinker83, post:3, topic:253795"]
As someone who is interested in geneology I can somewhat understand her feelings and motives. It is a nice gesture of her to replace the grave marker of her ancestor, but I don't think it is necessary. I also find it unreasonable to insist others go to a service for someone none of them ever knew. If they want to go that is fine, but I think she's being a bit dramatic.

[/quote]

Ditto.

She has no real authority to insist on the family's compliance.
The issue is meaningful to HER. OK, fine.


#5

Thank you all for your responses. I understand respecting the dead, but this person has been dead for a long time and I just don't feel motivated to actually go to the cemetery and visit the gravesite of someone I never knew. Sure, I can pray for him and the repose of his soul, but I can do that anywhere. I don't have to go to the cemetery and be in the presence of his remains to do that.

I didn't know if I was being unreasonable in my attitude or not, so thank you for your responses!


#6

The ancestors are not at the site of their grave and surely would not be happy watching their descendants fall out over such a thing.

Gravestones are for the benefit of the living, the dead have no use for them.


#7

[quote="SwizzleStick, post:5, topic:253795"]
Thank you all for your responses. I understand respecting the dead, but this person has been dead for a long time and I just don't feel motivated to actually go to the cemetery and visit the gravesite of someone I never knew. Sure, I can pray for him and the repose of his soul, but I can do that anywhere. I don't have to go to the cemetery and be in the presence of his remains to do that.

I didn't know if I was being unreasonable in my attitude or not, so thank you for your responses!

[/quote]

If you wished you could go as an act of kindness to your family member who has done this because it is important to her. You do not know your deceased ancestor but you do know your living relative who has felt drawn to to take on this project. Of course you are not obligated but being doing something out of love rather than obligation is always good.


#8

Grief and grieving is a very personal experience. Not everyone does this in quite the same way, so to expect someone to react in the same way, especially with someone they never met, is really a very unfair and unrealistic expectation.

Good for her, and I think it's quite admirable that she has chosen to do this. But it does not mean that everyone else in the family has to feel the same way. And if they don't, it does not mean they don't care (or perhaps it does mean that, and that's ok too). It simply means they do not choose to participate in quite the same way.

~Liza


#9

[quote="SwizzleStick, post:1, topic:253795"]
Someone is into genealogy. This someone has found the gravesite of an ancestor who has been dead nearly 100 years. Apparently, there is not much of a marker on the grave or it has deteriorated to such a point that she feels the stone needs to be replaced, so she has decided to purchase a new headstone. She has not asked for money for the stone, but she feels it is the responsibility and duty of family members who live in the same state to visit the gravesite and to be present for a ceremony when the new headstone is set. Neither she nor any living family members ever knew the deceased. Regardless, she thinks the deceased should be honored and respect should be shown by having descendants present for the ceremony. She is pleased with those who have shown interest in being present. She is disappointed and puzzled by those who are not enthusiastic or who have shown no interest in this project.

So, CAF, does anyone here have any opinions about this scenario that they would like to share? Is this interesting to contemplate or not? Discuss amongst yourselves, please.:)

[/quote]

I would do that, for some of my ancestors, if I could even find them. It is sometimes very difficult to locate graves - even 100 years ago, some people were buried on their own land, records have been lost, etc. - so finding a grave is rather exciting for those of us who love our family history. But I wouldn't ask anyone to attend who didn't want to be there. I have a couple of first cousins on my dad's side who are into genealogy (not geneOLogy, BTW) and so I would definitely contact them.

This relative needs to understand that family history does not interest most people. We historians should be content to know that someone in each generation gets the "bug" so our hard work won't be lost. Sometimes we get lucky and it's more than one person, but even if it's just one, we have to revel in that and keep plugging away.

Ask her to tell you about this relative whose grave it is. You might find some interest once you get to know the person better. She may have some really good stuff to share. Hopefully no scandals.

:)


#10

If you live in the same city and it is not too inconvenient, it would be a nice gesture to go just to please the person who asked you. Never hurts to do a kindness.


#11

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:9, topic:253795"]

This relative needs to understand that family history does not interest most people. We historians should be content to know that someone in each generation gets the "bug" so our hard work won't be lost. Sometimes we get lucky and it's more than one person, but even if it's just one, we have to revel in that and keep plugging away.

[/quote]

Very true. My grandma has worked hard at learning our family history for 30 or 40 years and has gotten quite far. I have definitely taken an interest in it, and feel I would like to be the "steward" in my generation. I know it sounds weird, but I'm not sure how to tell her politely that I would like to continue research and preserve the information when she is gone someday.

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:9, topic:253795"]
Ask her to tell you about this relative whose grave it is. You might find some interest once you get to know the person better. She may have some really good stuff to share. Hopefully no scandals.

:)

[/quote]

This is very true. When I was a kid my grandma would just tell me these peoples names and nothing else. Later on she told me stories and showed my journals and letters from some of these ancestors. That is when they really came alive and became interesting. I think more people need to realize this to spark interest.


#12

[quote="freethinker83, post:11, topic:253795"]
Very true. My grandma has worked hard at learning our family history for 30 or 40 years and has gotten quite far. I have definitely taken an interest in it, and feel I would like to be the "steward" in my generation. I know it sounds weird, but I'm not sure how to tell her politely that I would like to continue research and preserve the information when she is gone someday.

This is very true. When I was a kid my grandma would just tell me these peoples names and nothing else. Later on she told me stories and showed my journals and letters from some of these ancestors. That is when they really came alive and became interesting. I think more people need to realize this to spark interest.

[/quote]

It does not sound weird! Tell her as directly as you can! "Grandma, I really appreciate all that you have done to preserve our family's history. I would like to continue to explore and preserve all that you have done. I promise to be a good steward of all that you have found." And then watch her face light up with joy! :)

As for the stories...That's what makes history relevant. I have one great-grandfather who was a Rebel soldier in the Civil War, father's side. One on the Union side, mother's side. The Union soldier was imprisoned in Andersonville GA, a prisoner camp known for its cruel conditions - most did not make it out alive. I have his military records. It really brings the whole period into sharp focus for me, and most Americans have that same sort of history. One of my great-aunts settled BY HERSELF in North Dakota and was quite high in the state government, a true pioneer. I wish I had been old enough to hear some of her stories first hand. These are precious connections to the blood that still runs through us.


#13

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