I’m a softy for old love stories and enjoy searching for special stories pertaining to cemeteries in faraway lands…
Imagine being forced to make decision beyond your control, about your spouse’s burial grounds. It’s something that most of us would be like – “Um, no way. Not going to happen.” But In the 1800’s…”Yep.” That’s the way it was. For example, a group of Dutch People aka, Nederlandse Volksbeweging (“NVB”), in hopes of ending segregation called “pillarisation.” Pillarisation, unlike the segregation in the US – the Netherlands, pillarisation divided society with religious lines, with Catholics and Protestants living their everyday life…separate from one another.
This led me to the gravesite below.
In 1842, a colonel in the Dutch cavalry, JWC van Gorkum, married a woman known as JCPH van Aefferden. The union was controversial — van Gorkum was Protestant and van Aefferden was Catholic. Regardless, the two remained married for decades, only separating when van Gorkum died in 1880. He was buried in a cemetery near the Dutch town of Roermond called Begraafplaats Nabij de Kapel in ‘t Zand (“the cemetery near the chapel in ‘Zand”). Pillarisation was taken very seriously — each community had its own schools, media, and graveyards — and Begraafplaats was no different. It took this segregation literally, with each religion having its own section. Van Gorkum was buried in the Protestant section, as would any other Protestant during that time.
But when van Aefferden passed away eight years later, she couldn’t be buried with him; even in death, Catholics needed to stay with their own. While alive, she made her wishes clear — she did not want to be buried in her family tomb. Instead, she asked to be as close to her husband as possible. The solution, seen above, is her grave site. (Here’s a bigger version of her tombstone, and here’s his.) The NVB was successful in changing Dutch culture by the mid-1960s. After reading this – I had a vision of Gorkum and Aefferden…with a very large, hammer.