My husband and I shared the cemetery kit I mentioned here. It worked well if we were graving together or close to the car, but that isn’t always the case.
When we are searching for a grave, we generally divide and conquer. “I’ll walk the rows on the left if you walk the ones on the right.”
If the goal is to take pictures for Find A Grave, the kit waits patiently in the car. Of course any headstone requiring the kit is sure to be the one farthest from the car. Ugh.
For our recent trip to Chicago, we disassembled the big box and created two more-portable cemetery kits. Mine fits in this little backpack.
My new and improved cemetery kit contains:
- A foam cushion for kneeling on (sometimes wet) grass. This is especially helpful when spur of the moment graving occurs. We aren’t always dressed appropriately for crawling around on the ground.
- A sharp knife for cutting sod around overgrown headstones. Knives must be used carefully, feeling first for the edges of a headstone so no damage is caused.
- Pruning shears for the occasional tree branch or aggressive Creeping Charlie
- Soft paint brush to remove debris from engraving.
- Small spray bottle of clean water to remove dirt or bird droppings. Sometimes a fine mist of water sprayed on the engraved words will make them crystal clear. Sometimes it has the opposite effect.
- Whisk broom for heavier debris removal. Works well this time of year for brushing leaves away from the base of headstones.
- Aluminum foil to bring life to reluctant engravings. Used rarely and gingerly.
- Large soft rubber band for foil on small upright headstones. Used very rarely and very gingerly.
- Gardening gloves to protect my hands. Graving is dirty work!
- A whistle to check on one other’s locations or to call for help if necessary.
- A notebook and mechanical pencil for note taking or reminders.
- Pencil with soft eraser that can ease foil into engraved letters.
- Hand wipes. Gardening gloves can only do so much.
- Magnifying glass (not shown). This was very helpful when trying to read the detailed map at Oak Woods.
- A small compass (not shown). Because it’s easy to lose your sense of direction when wandering among the dead.