Times have changed, especially over the past 100 years. But one thing that hasn’t changed is love. This story is about a married couple, Colonel J.W.C. van Gorcum and Jonkvrouwe J.C.P.H. van Aefferden, who were both Christians, yet she was catholic and he was protestant.
After being married for forty-two years, the Colonel died in 1880 and was buried in the protestant plot of the town. As was custom, he was buried in the Protestant section of the local cemetery, which divided its occupants by faith. Different sections were allotted for Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, and each section was divided by a thick brick wall.
Lady Van Aefferden passed away eight years later in 1888. They were not allowed to be buried together. He was a protestant and didn’t belong to the nobility. Traditionally, people in this southern part of Holland would be buried in their family plots corresponding to the religion they followed.
She opted not to be buried in her noble family plot, but instead to be laid as close to her husband as possible. Both of their graves face each other and are joined by hands above the wall. The unique graves are called
Het graf met de handjes, which translates to “Grave with the little hands.”
Their symbolic gravestones caused quite the stir in the community of Roermond and if it weren’t for the Colonels good reputation and his wifes noble background, their chosen resting places may not have been honored.
What a beautiful story of never-ending love. Their love goes with them, even into the grave.