Divorced mom takes up tombstone cleaning for therapy

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For this divorcee, the tomb — not time — heals all wounds.

On the heels of a ghastly divorce, Virginia native Alicia Williams found inner peace tidying up the tombstones of those resting in peace. And now, she’s found herself to be a TikTok sensation.

“I was in the middle of an incredibly high-conflict divorce and had to adjust to sharing custody of my children from Virginia to Florida,” Williams explains to her online audience of her grave-beautification fixation. “I needed a therapeutic outlet.”

Turning her pain into fame, the stay-at-home mom turned social media megastar has amassed a TikTok following of over 1.1 million subscribers since October. 

Captivating cyberspace with her headstone scraping and scrubbing, Williams’ viral videos take viewers on a time-elapsed cleansing journey in Bedford, Virginia’s Longwood Cemetery. 

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Alicia Williams, a Virginia woman who struggled through a difficult divorce, cleans old tombstones as therapy.

ladytaphos via TikTok

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tombstone-cleaner-04

Alicia Williams, a Virginia woman who struggled through a difficult divorce, cleans old tombstones as therapy.

ladytaphos via TikTok

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tombstone-cleaner-03

Alicia Williams, a Virginia woman who struggled through a difficult divorce, cleans old tombstones as therapy.

ladytaphos via TikTok

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Each minutelong clip begins with a shot of a grime-covered gravestone — typically belonging to the deceased of the 1900s, though some are as recent as the 1990s. 

As she washes away decades of dirt and pollen, Williams gives a brief closed-caption biography of the deceased while the sounds of her wiping and brushing serve as background sounds. The real-life noises make her videos popular with fans of ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, content. 

“My first clean was my aunt Hattie, my great-grandmother’s sister,” Williams says in a November video. “She was buried alone. Her family rests elsewhere. I felt drawn to her because of that. She died so young.”

‘The whole process of the last three years has been a metaphor to my healing from my divorce.’

Alicia Williams

When she’s not fascinating followers with her cemetery swabbing, Williams is sharing how-to tips for viewers also interested in prettying-up RIP plaques. 

Deeming D/2 Biological Solution the “most approved” cleaning product in her tomb-cleaning arsenal, Williams shows prospective grave cleaners her low-pressure sprayer, water, bamboo skewers, scrapers and soft-bristle brushes. 

“Other than that, it just takes my time and patience and care,” she says in her most recent instructional post. 

Williams fully attributes her emotional recovery from the divorce to her burial plot polishing. 

 “The whole process of the last three years has been a metaphor [of] my healing from my divorce,” she says. 

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