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Librarian is sharing her 'gravestone recipes' to help others find comfort with death

Rosie Grant has delighted folks with wholesome recipes for cookies, pies and more—all passed down from those who have passed on.

graveyard recipes
Photo used with permission from Rosie Grant

Apparently they're "to die for"

You really can combine any interests and make them into something truly unique. Such was the case with digital librarian Rosie Grant, who has somehow been able to blend cemeteries, social media and baking into a sweet way of sharing memories of those who have passed on.

Grant’s @ghostlyarchive TikTok is filled with video tours through gravesites, uncovering lesser known cemetery facts and stories from history. It was while she was traveling through the Greenwood cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, that she stumbled upon the grave of Naomi Odessa Miller-Dawson—along with a recipe for something called “spritz cookies” printed on her gravestone.

Grant had no idea what a spritz cookie was, other than it required seven basic ingredients. But she decided to follow the recipe as best she could to find out.


With the guidance of her followers, Grant was able to successfully bake what she describes as “if a sugar cookie and a shortbread cookie had a baby,” delightfully buttery treats that were “to die for.”

Grant soon discovered more gravestone recipes using various news reports, tweets and a graveyard archive site called Find a Grave. Grant told Today that she's been able to recreate “12 or 13” recipes, including fudge found on a grave in Utah, blueberry pie in Washington and snickerdoodles from California.

It should be noted that savory dishes are certainly not excluded from Grant’s cemetery baking journey. She has also made delicious cheese dip and apparently the “best meatloaf.”

Occasionally Grant is able to bring back treats to the graves that provided the recipe, as she was able to with Miller-Dawson’s spritz cookies.

As a library science student at the University of Maryland in 2021, Grant was given the assignment to start a TikTok account from scratch to better understand how networks work. Coincidentally, Grant was also interning at the historical archives of the nearby Congressional Cemetery.

A professor wisely suggested that Grant combine the two. And thus, the @ghostlyarchive TikTok Channel was born. Grant quickly found that others shared her passion—within a year, Ghostly Archive racked up more than 100,000 followers and millions of collective views. In an interview with BuzzFeed, Grant credited a lot of the channel’s popularity to the “death positive community” of #GraveTok, a TikTok subculture that celebrates the stories of those who have died.

@manicpixiemom Lottie ❤️ #gravetok #gravestonecleaning #history ♬ original sound - manicpixiemom 🧽 🪦

"[It's] the idea that society is better if we understand our own mortality and change our mindsets so that [death is] like a celebration of our lives, rather than something to be feared or ignored,” she told BuzzFeed.

Folks have viewed the gravestone recipes in particular as an endearing way of connecting those who have passed to those in the land of the living. “When we’re in mourning, food is very comforting to us,” Grant told Today. “These recipes feel like a more tactile, all-senses-included way to remember someone rather than only using your memory. When you’re eating grandma’s special cake or cookie or whatever it is, you feel a little bit more connected to her.”

“People will comment what they would want to put on their gravestone if they had to pick a recipe, or some people say things like, ‘Oh, snickerdoodles, my mom made it this way.’ And so there’s just this whole nostalgic connection, which has been really cool,” she added.

Grant, who admits to having her own fears about mortality, has found that gravestone recipes can help make potentially hard conversations a little more lighthearted. “My family and I talk about it more regularly. What will our final resting place be? How do I want to be celebrated in life? How do I want to be celebrated in death? And it's made me personally feel a lot more comfortable with this, like the absurd thing that we'll all die someday,” she told NPR.

Death is not always an easy thing to embrace—whether it’s the grief of losing a loved one or coming to terms with our own impermanence. But as Grant’s recipes show, there are so many ways in which memories really do live on, especially through the things that made our time on Earth a touch sweeter.

By the way, if you've seen a gravestone recipe, you can reach out to Grant via Instagram or TikTok.

All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

True

A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
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