‘I Don’t Believe In An Afterlife’: Why This TikTok-Famous Vermonter Cleans Graves

Caitlin Abrams of Vermont has become TikTok-famous for her grave-cleaning videos. (Elodie Reed/VPR)

At 9:30 in the morning on one of the hottest days in August, it was still cool at Maple Hill Cemetery in the town of Dorset, Vermont. That is the time of day when Caitlin Abrams likes to come here. She wore rubber boots in the dewy grass that soon, a man would start to mow. She walked over to a marble stone, whiter than the rest.

It reads, “Joseph Porter Baldwin, son of Silas and Sarah Baldwin, who died April 26 1811, in the sixth year of his age. His death was occasioned by accidentally falling under the pitman of a sawmill, which instantly terminated his existence.”

Caitlin cleaned this grave recently. That’s what she does here.

She read the epitaph aloud: “All you that walk around my tomb, may see where to all nature comes, though you are young, yet you may die and sleep in death as well as I.”

Last spring, Caitlin received a one-off request to clean a gravestone. It turned into a hobby — and internet fame.

Now, the 35-year-old finds time some mornings to visit one of four cemeteries where she has permission to carefully, expertly remove centuries of moss and dirt from 18th and 19th century headstones. And she’s gained nearly 1.5 million followers on TikTok for the videos she makes of herself doing it.

For the audio and full version of this story, continue on VPR.org.