A year ago, my father passed away. He was a good father, though with many weaknesses…. My older brother invited me to go to the cemetery to take flowers to his gravesite, but my mother and younger sister do not think that we should do that. They interpret it as revering the dead. Would it be all right to take flowers ever so often, or would God disapprove of doing that?

Dear Friend,

One of the Ten Commandments is to honor your father and your mother.(1) To honor is to treat with respect. It sounds like your brother wants to take flowers to your father’s grave out of respect for him.

Another reason that people want to visit the gravesite of a loved one is to take time to remember that person. Remembering is a good thing. After God dried up the Jordan River so that Joshua could lead the Children of Israel across on dry land, God told Joshua to set up stones from the river as a memorial and remembrance of the miracle.(2) The prophet Samuel set up a stone so that the people would remember how the Lord had delivered them in battle.(3) God ordained special days and feasts so that the people would remember how He had worked for their good throughout history.(4) And His Son Jesus Christ even told us to celebrate Holy Communion regularly to remember His death on the cross to save us from our sins.(5)

The stones, the feasts, and even the bread of Holy Communion were not things to be revered. They were simply memory devices that caused the people to think about and remember important truths in their lives.

Remembering the positive experiences that we have had and the blessings in our lives gives us a positive outlook and attitude. Have you ever been to a new place and bought a trinket to take home with you? Looking at the trinket causes you to remember the good time that you had in that place. Even photos in frames cause us to remember people and occasions. We do not revere the trinkets or the photos, but they do give us joy in the remembering.

A gravesite is simply a place to remember. In your case, you remember the good times that you had with your father and the love that you had for him.

It is important to realize that your father is not at the cemetery. All that is buried there is an empty shell. Your father is gone. We believe that the souls of the dead leave their physical bodies upon death. Those souls are then in the hands of God.

Would you be revering that empty shell if you were to take flowers and visit your father’s grave? No, there is nothing in the Bible that would cause us to think so.

We wish you the best,

1 Ex 20:12
2 Jos 3-4
3 1S 7:12
4 Lev 23
5 Mt 26:28; Lk 22:19; 1Co 11:23-26