A volunteer has been cleaning centuries-old tombstones and sharing their stories with people

As the old saying goes, everyone dies twice. The first time is your physical death, the second is the last time anyone utters your name.

If the old saying is true, then Caitlin Abrams is giving dozens of people a second life by cleaning their tombstones and allowing their names to be heard once again. Abrams volunteers at four cemeteries and cleans the tombstones of people who died between the 1700s to the early 1900s.

Most of the tombstones she cleans are hard to read, but after a good scrubbing and dousing with D2, hundreds of years of dirt and grime disappear, revealing their original inscriptions.


Abrams' tombstone videos have attracted over 25 million views on TikTok. In addition to the cleansing, she adds a bit of history about the deceased and the era in which they lived.

Most of the tombstones Abrams cleans are those of women and children. She focuses on them to remind people just how common death was before the advent of modern medicine.

"Over the last few decades especially, death moved from something that everyone experienced on a daily basis in their own home to something that happens primarily to the elderly and far away in a hospital or nursing home," she told Buzzfeed.

"Of course it is absolutely incredible, the progress that modern medicine has made, and we should all be thankful for it, but it does mean that we, especially younger generations, keep death at something of a distance," she continued.

The graves are a window into a time long gone when children routinely died of diseases that are survivable today.

Here are some of Abrams' most popular videos.

David James Carter and David James Carter

The older David died at the age of 12 from scarlet fever. After his passing, his parents named their next boy David James Carer as well. He would die of diptheria at a very young age. The boys also had a sister named Sarah who Abrams covers in the next video.


@manicpixiemom

David James and David James ❤️💔 #gravetok #gravestonecleaning #cemetery


Sarah Carter

Sarah died in 1865 of typhoid fever, a bacterial infection that killed a lot of people in the U.S. prior to antibiotics. The grave has a tragic inscription: "Our happy hopes are buried here." The Carters buried three children in the same decade.


@manicpixiemom

#gravetok #gravestonecleaning #taphophile


Silas and Freddie Reed

Poor Silas died at the young age of 11 months of what's described as "lung fever," which was most likely pneumonia. His brother, Freddie, died almost a year after at the age of eight, due to typhoid fever. This cleansing is especially satisfying to watch because the tombstone goes from unreadable to readable in just a few minutes.


@manicpixiemom

Will definitely provide updates on Silas’s stone 🥰 #gravetok #gravestonecleaning #medicalhistory


Fannie Blackmer

Fannie died at the young age of 21 due to tuberculosis. Her headstone brightened up beautifully after the cleaning.


@manicpixiemom

Fannie Blackmer ❤️ #gravetok #gravestonecleaning


Olive Waite

Olive died at 21 in 1807 from what's believed to be tuberculosis. The stone has a beautiful inscription:

See how she sleeps beneath the stone

In death's cold shade her body lies while her triumphant soul is gone to join the songs above the skies

Methinks her shade appears to say "behold my relics lifeless clay"

The hour my fate, your oh maybe

Prepare dear youth to follow me



@manicpixiemom

Olive ❤️ #gravetok #gravestonecleaning


Rachel Burton "The Manchester Vampire"

Burton died in 1790 at the age of 21. Three years after her death, her husband Isaac's second wife, Holda, came down with tuberculosis as well. Back then, people believed that tuberculosis was caused by deceased people who come back from the grave to curse family members with the disease.

Isaac believed that Rachel placed a curse on his current wife, so he had 500 people come to the cemetery where her body was exhumed. Her heart and liver were burned and Holda breathed in the ashes to be cured of the disease.

Sadly, Holda died anyway.


@manicpixiemom

Rachel Burton, the Manchester Vampire. #gravetok #gravestonecleaning #newenglandhistory

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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