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Cemetery hands tend to be shown doing one of four things: clasping, praying, pointing, and blessing. All these signs show that the deceased's relationships involve human beings. (The hand to the right is the hand of God reaching down from a cloud to lay a flower on a grave.) The hand says "Here I lived". From the fact of this life, the hand directs us to spiritual matters (e.g. the presence of God) or to the endurance of human feelings (clasping hands often symbolize a marriage or other close bond).
Photo: Burying Ground, Somesville, Maine
Copyright 2000 by Joel GAzis-SAx