Why are we intrigued, maybe even fascinated with cemeteries? To some they’re frightening and to others comforting. I don’t know anyone who views the subject of cemeteries as if you were talking about a local yard sale.
The cemetery is a symbol of the gateway we’ll all pass through at one time or another. The qualification to enter is death. When someone speaks of death or dying, we all have some type of amplified reaction. No one remains mentally passive when the subject arises. We seem to immediately become nervous at the subject being raised, or react the opposite way and are eager to talk about it.
When we drive past a cemetery we all look and most of us will point it out as if it were something very unusual yet, everyone will die at some point so why does it seem so unusual to see a place that has an inevitable end for all of us? Why do we see this as shocking or unbelievable when it comes to ourselves? Is it a coping mechanism? Will it “never happen to me”? You hear few people say; “Oh look, it’s a cemetery, can we stop?”
How we react to death is undeniably hinged to our ideology or, what we believe happens to us when we die. Is death the end or simply a door we pass through to a better life? Is it death itself that’s disturbing or is it how we die that bothers us, or is it both? I’ll suggest the obvious and say that all these questions are highly subjective and therefore just about any answer is possible. The common denominator for all of us is that everyone will face it. As one sage once quipped; “The statistics on death are quite impressive, one out of one die.”
Let me circle back around to the cemetery. I believe the cemetery to be a very stark reminder and symbol of our mortality. There is no escape. We will all face death and it won’t matter how influential or rich you are. It won’t matter how many friends you’ve got. Death is the one thing that’s inescapable. The cemetery is that “in your face” reminder of death but the bottom line is, it’s coming. The cemetery stands as that reminder.
So you might be wondering just what the point of this blog is if it’s so subjective that there are no conclusive answers? I would like to say that I have the answers to life’s questions but I can’t. My experience allows me to feel comfortable with death’s door and to view cemeteries, not as places of ghosts and evil spirits, but as places of eternal rest and peace and a gateway to a glorious eternal life.
There are people that feel at peace in cemeteries and visit them often. Some people visit cemeteries where they know no one at all. They just enjoy being there. It gives them a better appreciation for life, reminding them that “life is short” and to take advantage of the gifts you’ve been given. Think of all the most powerful or inspirational people in past history from Julius Caesar to Albert Einstein and they’ve all died. Cemeteries seem to remind us of life being short.
Next time you pass a cemetery, think of all the stories that were lost with the people that are there. They alone know the secrets, the hopes and dreams that were fulfilled, surpassed or never reached. Even though the people are lost to us now, the memories can endure until we see them again. Well there you go. I gave myself away.
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