Sacred Grounds: Unveiling the Significance of Cemeteries in the Grief Process

Sacred Grounds: Significance of Cemeteries

In this episode, Pete and Amber are joined by Mike Miller of the Willow River Cemetery in Hudson, WI. Mike shares his personal journey, recalling how his fascination with the cemetery began when he worked there as a 15-year-old summer job worker. As the discussion unfolds, Mike opens up about the challenges and rewards of meeting with grieving families, emphasizing the fulfilling responsibility of assisting them through the burial arrangements process.

The trio dives into the intricacies of the sale process and the careful consideration given to selecting burial spaces in collaboration with the families. They also explore the significance of maintaining the cemetery grounds and the growing trend of families seeking a designated place, like a cemetery, for solace and remembrance.

Throughout the episode, the hosts and Mike emphasize the profound role cemeteries play in initiating the grief work process and providing individuals with a means to find solace and commemorate their loved ones.


  1. Cemeteries should not be seen merely as burial places, but rather as significant spaces for grief work and commemoration.
  2. The role of a cemetery caretaker goes beyond administrative tasks, as they provide crucial support to grieving families during the burial arrangements process.

In this episode:

[2:28] Mike shares the story of his career as the caretaker for Willow River Cemetery and how he just “fell in love with the place” the first time he saw it as a 15-year-old kid for his summer job.

[4:53] Mike talks about his experience meeting with the families of the deceased and how it’s both a challenging and rewarding responsibility. He emphasizes how helping people get through the process of burial arrangements can be fulfilling.

[9:10] Pete asks Mike about how the sale process works and how they go about selecting the burial spaces with the families of the deceased.

[15:41] Mike talks about the importance of mowing and maintaining the burial spaces. Pete brings up the topic of scattering after cremation and the three discuss how some families eventually look for a place they can go to, such as a cemetery, to find peace and commemorate their loved ones.

[19:54] Mike shares about the spaces Willow River owns at the West Side of 9th Street and how they have enough land space for the generations to come. Amber synthesizes the discussion by reiterating how cemeteries are an amazing place to start the process of grief work.


  1. O’Connell Family Funeral Homes
  2. Amber Miller
  3. Willow River Cemetery
  4. Daily Affirmations
  5. Read Show Transcript


  1. “It’s a big responsibility, but there’s also some reward that goes with that if I feel like I (kinda) got them through the process of burial arrangements…little as painful as they thought it might have been.” – Mike Miller
  2. “Time is the best healer.” – Mike Miller on grief

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