My room overlooks St Deniol’s church in Hawarden. Like many people, I find old churchyards fascinating. I walked around reading the gravestones, trying to piece together the stories of people’s lives. Some of the graves date back to the 1600s and 1700s. There are also some war graves here, including one from the Crimean War. One man appears to have buried three wives in the same grave: I wonder whether they all did ‘rest in peace’ as the inscription urged them to do or whether there was some ghostly fighting between the women.
Some inscriptions are simple, others more flowery. Many have scripture verses, poetry or hymns embossed. There are a few euphemisms used, death too harsh or upsetting a word. The most frequently used is to describe the deceased as someone ‘who fell asleep’. As a child that gave me the heebie jeebies. The poor old man, I would think, he only nodded off for a minute and his family buried him before he could wake up!
There are other attempts: ‘Who departed this life’; ‘Was called home’; ‘Who passed on to higher service’
Then there is this verse on the grave of 24 year old John Jones which begins as if to offer comfort, but to my mind succeeds only in sounding like a threat:
‘Weep not my wife and children dear
A tender father lieth here
My death you know, my grave you see,
Prepare yourselves to follow me’
Sleep tight, my friends.