An important part of the grieving and healing process is visiting the grave site of the loved one. The visit to the cemetery or mausoleum expresses a strong statement that the deceased has not been forgotten. Religions and cultures often have traditions about how often and when the cemetery should be visited. Many religions stress the importance of remembering and honoring those who have passed away while maintaining a balance of continuing life with a hope for the future.

Buddhism has several sects of beliefs and traditions, and each sect often has many schools within it. As such there are many different traditions and customs about visiting the cemetery. Generally, the grave may be visited by family and friends to show honor and remembrance for the deceased. The importance placed upon the gravesite itself will vary by the Buddhist sect or school.

Times of Respect

A cemetery is a place for families and friends to mourn and remember their loved ones. Visiting the grave sites should be done with respect, honor and peacefulness. It is appropriate to bring flowers or statues or memorabilia to adorn the grave site. Trash or discarded items should be cleaned up and taken away after the visit is over.

The one who visits the cemetery is entrusted with preserving the memory of the deceased for all of those who will follow. Care and respect should be given at all times.

Times of Remembrance

Because Buddhist beliefs affirm cycles of life and transitions from one cycle to the next, many teach that there are times when the deceased is more connected to the previous life than the next one. In many of the Buddhist teachings, this time period is about twenty-one days following the death. During this period, family and friends may want to visit the cemetery often to say good-byes, reassure the deceased, and encourage them to let go of the past life and move on to the one ahead.

It is appropriate for family and friends to visit the cemetery on special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries. Buddhist tradition would not prohibit a visit to a cemetery during holiday or feast times, though some holidays would be less appropriate than others because of the nature of the celebration.

There are exceptions to these principles, depending on the circumstances and the depth of commitment to the religious traditions. For instance, relatives who have traveled a great distance may want to visit the grave site and would be encouraged to do so.