Remembering lost loved ones during the holiday season…A visit to a local resting place overlooking the sea…

What a peaceful spot for the General Penguin Cemetery. May all those who rest here bring peace and comfort to the family members and friends of Penguin, Tasmania.

The holiday season is upon us and for those who celebrate worldwide, many find themselves entrenched in myriad festivities, purchasing gifts and participating in endless traditions.

With thoughts of those we’ve lost, we visited the General Penguin Cemetery overlooks the Bass Straits in Tasmania.

But, many with memories of heartbreak and sorrow for the loss of loved ones during the holiday season and other times throughout the year are plagued with feelings of loss and grief during these special times.

View of the bay in Penguin from the cemetery. 

Anniversaries of losing someone we love can be daunting. I sense this feeling myself while easily remembering my father’s death in October, 1960 when I was only 12 years old. All these years later the angst of that loss becomes all the more prevalent on that date.

How interesting it would be to know the history of those buried here.

For Tom, the loss of his first grandchild in 1999 and losing both his parents, his father in 1985 and with whom he shared a birthday on December 23rd, and his mother who passed away in 2008, remain in his heart during the holiday season and throughout the year. 

Penguin General Cemetery was established as a National Heritage site.

We all grieve differently. Losing a loved one never seems to heal, but as “they” say, “time is a great healer.” In essence, this may be true but no one wants to hear these words during their deepest periods of grief.

There were fresh and permanent flowers recently placed throughout the cemetery.

The feelings of joy and excitement over holiday festivities are often marred by the sense of loss sweeping through our hearts and minds as the flurry of activities often helps us avoid thinking about loss.

From the 1800’s on we noticed many young lives lost.

Suddenly, the memories overcome us resulting in holiday periods being one of the most likely periods of depression and suicide.  Loss, in the form of the passing of a loved one, the end of a relationship or especially in today’s world, the end of a meaningful and pertinent career or financial security, merely enhances the heaviness in one’s heart, easily exacerbated during the holidays.

What stories could be found herein?

There’s no easy answer as to how to avert these feelings. No method is cut and dried. We’ve found that focusing on embracing the spiritual meaning or special significance of the holiday while sharing joyful stories of those we’ve lost may be instrumental is softening the sorrowful feelings. 

Decades of erosion and weather left some headstones tilted.

The ability to fill our hearts and minds with the blessings we’ve been gifted in our lives today (and in the past) may ease an overwhelming sense of sorrow.  Above all, finding ways to give to others may aid in taking us outside of our own grief to focus on bringing a moment of happiness and joy to those who may need it more than us. 

This lost soul at the top of this headstone was born in 1829, the lower lost soul was born in 1859 and passed away in 1877, at only 18 years old.

Now, far from family and friends, alone together in this foreign land that we only call our own for short periods, we still feel the love awaiting us when we visit Minnesota and Nevada in five and seven months respectively.

There is a wide array of markers.

In the interim, Penguin has wrapped its arms around us healing some of our losses from the past, including us in her magical world and filling us with memories we’ll always carry with us.

It was sunny the day we visited the cemetery, but the wind was blowing voraciously, chilling us to the bone.

In a mere 27 days, we’ll be on the move again, leaving behind new friends, a town we’ve treasured for its charm and unique qualities, adding greatly to the repertoire of memorable experiences in this unusual life we live of traveling the world until we can’t, with no home, no stuff, no storage and an ultimate sense of freedom and adventure. 

This gravesite is showing signs of many years of erosion.

We’re grateful. We’re happy. We continue on..

A statue commemorating the cemetery.

Thank you to each and every one of our readers for sharing this seemingly never ending journey with us (health providing). It’s through YOU that we find the determination, the commitment and the dedication in sharing our story, day after day.

A family plot of many years.

Photo from one year ago today, December 20, 2015:

Danny, Samantha, (newlywed couple staying next door) me and Tom, outside our house in Pacific Harbour, Fiji, one year ago today. We had just returned from dinner at a local restaurant.  For more photos, please click here.

Comments and responses Remembering lost loved ones during the holiday season…A visit to a local resting place overlooking the sea…

  1. Unknown Reply

    Hi Jessica and Tom. I have written you a couple of times during your travels and my wife Charlene and I have followed you since you left Chanhassen, where we live (by Lotus lake). I love your adventure and we were using you as inspiration to perhaps do something similar. I had to write today because your words on grief are so true and enlightened. I lost my wonderful companion and wife Charlene on July 20th of this year. Without going into details she hid her depression from everyone and developed psychosis late in life, very unusual (age 66). She took her own life. And it has been very daunting. But myself and our daughters are forging ahead and I treasure your wise words about filling our hearts with the blessings we've been gifted (I feel very fortunate for the 33 amazing and wonderful years Charlene and I had together) and this Christmas time we will tell joyful stories about Charlene. So just wanted to say I find your words many times inspiring and wise, always interesting, and look forward to reading every post. Thank You. You and Tom have a wonderful Christmas.

  2. Jessica Reply

    Dear Richard, we hesitated in responding to your comment on our site as quickly as usual. We were at a loss for words, our hearts aching so, for the loss of your beloved Charlene. Its kind and generous of you to share the story of your devastating loss of your love and companion of 33 years.

    No words, we or anyone can express can lighten the load of the sorrow you must carrying each and every day. The typical, "I'm sorry for your loss" is meaningless and shallow, an easy attempt to deflect the responsibility of saying something more revealing and heartfelt when we try to imagine the depth of your loss. None of us who haven't experienced such a loss can even comprehend.

    We are grateful to hear your daughters have rallied at your side while together you try to make some sense of it all. We commend you and admire you for your determination and hope for the future.

    Reading your comment had a profound effect on both Tom and I, especially in light of our discussion of loss only in yesterday's post. We are honored and grateful to know you have found even a morsel of distraction in reading our posts and thank you with all of our hearts for reaching out to us.

    If you don't mind, we'd like to make mention of your comment in tomorrow's post. We will do so anonymously, using no names, no city or any specific identifying references. We all have a lot to learn from you which is all the more vital during the holiday season and year end, as we all reflect upon our own lives.

    May healing and comfort find their way into you hearts as you work your way through the painful grieving process.

    Much love and blessings always,
    Jess & Tom

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