Wade Edwards’ Surrogate Mourner

This 10 ft. tall white marble monument marking the grave of Wade Edwards in Raleigh’s Oakwood Cemetery is one of the most breathtaking examples of a surrogate mourner that I’ve ever witnessed. (Angels and other figures which mark graves with no likeness to the person buried there are referred to as surrogate mourners, because they continue to mourn the dead in the absence of loved ones.) After Wade’s untimely death from an automobile accident in 1996 his parents (politician John Edwards and the late Elizabeth Edwards) commissioned artist Robert Mihaly to create the impressive statue, which displays an angel cradling Wade’s face. 

Elizabeth Edwards sat on this engraved bench for several years following Wade’s death, leaving flowers and reading to his grave. Nearby, a small plaque  reads, “When Flowers Bloom The Angels Sing.”

When Elizabeth Edwards died in 2010 she was interred next to her son at Oakwood. Her grave is currently marked by a plaque at the foot of the grave inscribed with lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.” While researching Wade’s statue I read that there could be a larger piece in the works for Elizabeth’s grave, also sculpted by Mihaly.

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