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The woman who’s gone viral by cleaning gravestones and sharing stories of the dead

MANIC PIXIE MOM

manicpixiemom | TikTok | Fair Use

Sarah Robsdottir - published on 11/03/21

Manic Pixie Mom on TikTok began sharing her hobby back in May.

Caitlin Abrams, known as Manic Pixie Mom on TikTok, began sharing her hobby of cleaning gravestones while telling the stories of the dead back in May. She’s already gained over 1.6M followers. 

“Today I’m cleaning the grave of Merit Aldrich, who died in 1875 at nine months old,” one of her most watched videos begins. “Merit was the third child to be born to his parents and the third child to die before reaching the age of one. He is buried here along with his sister Lizzie and his brother George …” 

Abrams goes on to tell more about the entire Aldrich family — all information she gathered from Ancestry.comFamilysearch.org (a free site), Newspapers.com, and several other sources. She also explains her cleaning methods and how/why she started this endeavor — no religious reasons mentioned, rather “a meaningful hobby for a history enthusiast.” 

It’s a hobby Abrams demonstrates with a quiet voice and tender care toward each gravestone. Her fans are certainly captivated by the entire process, but especially the reveal at the end — a stone marker covered in dirt becomes sparkling clean. Names and dates crisp up clear where there was once only moss. And while, as mentioned before, Abrams claims no specific spiritual reasons for her hobby, it’s easy to see the innate Catholic nature of her work.  

As Catholics, we revere those who have gone before us marked with heroic faith, seeking out their saintly prayers all year long, but especially on All Saints Day (November 1).

We also have clear cut duties toward all who have died outlined in our Catechism: to pray for the souls in purgatory and, of course, to bury them with reverence. 

Watching Abrams gently scrub away dirt from the dates on a 200-year-old gravestone and hearing her speak the names of the dead aloud is inspiring, as if she’s saying to her audience: “Perhaps ‘burying the dead’ isn’t a one-time event.”

It’s no wonder if her fans decided to stroll the cemetery on All Souls Day (November 2), or any day this month — wearing gardening gloves. 

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