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Cemeteries are a place for us to come to terms with our own mortality.


"The cemetery garden will always be a natural place for us to come to terms with the reality of our mortality. It doesn't have to be a morbid place. It should be a place to find meaning and purpose. And like all gardens, it should be a place to celebrate life and find renewal."(https://elac.ca/Peaceful places At rest) Erik Lees feels that the sacredness of a cemetery can translate to a regular garden The serenity and reverential tone of a cemetery garden can be an inspiration to all gardeners Steve Whysall Vancouver Sun Friday, March 01, 2002)

Considering our discomfort with mortality, and nearby cemeteries acting as a reminder of our mortality, it’s possible that we responded by creating tall tales and treating cemeteries as taboo. Unlike many of the world’s cultures, which celebrate or dignify death, we avoid it. So, it’s no wonder that most people find cemeteries creepy.


It certainly doesn’t help either that movies often portray cemeteries as places where characters meet an untimely fate or are sources of fear. (Source: www.joblo.com lists top 10 horror movie graveyards (2015))

•        1989 Pet Cemetery

•        1985 Return of the Living Dead

•        1968 Night of the Living Dead

•        1992 Army of Darkness

•        1976 The Omen


When many people think of burials, they may imagine foggy moonlight moors, boogeymen lurking in the shadows, and other macabre clichés. Most of the images that pop into one’s head are likely memories of old Halloween movies or scenes from horror novels. Our uncertainty about what happens after death has inspired countless works of fiction. “Even under the most favourable circumstances, the associations which are generally attached to churchyards are gloomy and terrific,” wrote John Claudius Loudon in his 1843 book On the Laying Out, Planting and Managing of Cemeteries, and On the Improvement of Churchyards.”


The modern Western culture doesn’t interact with the dead in their resting place, but other cultures do. In Indonesia, some groups remove the remains of their deceased relatives from their graves to put them in new clothing every several years. They believe that the spirits of the dead are still within their bodies, and by re-clothing them, re-wrapping them, and interacting with the remains throughout the process, they are honoring the spirits of their ancestors.


In Mexico, the graves of relatives are visited during the Day of the Dead to be cleaned and decorated. Often relatives will spend the day and night within the cemetery to honor their ancestors. The Day of the Dead is a holiday held on November 1st and 2nd when it is believed that the veil between the spirit world and the physical world is removed. Family and friends gather in cemeteries to pray for and to remember those who have died. The souls of the dead awaken and return to the living world to feast, dance, and play music with their loved ones.


The Chinese do not view cemeteries as repositories of the dead, but rather as a community of living spirits who are able to communicate with and help their descendants. The foundation of burial customs in China is the ancient practice of ancestor worship. Each spring during the Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, extended families visit their ancestor’s graves to worship, make offerings, and clean the graves. If their ancestors are unhappy with the upkeep of their graves or the quality of the offerings, they might teach their descendants a lesson by refusing to help them when they are in need or by even by giving them a good haunting.


Obon is a Buddhist festival when people honor their dead ancestors. The timing of it varies in different parts of the country but it is generally held in the summertime. People visit graves and make offerings of food at altars in their homes or temples. A special dance called the Obon Odori is performed. People traditionally put lanterns in front of their homes to guide their ancestors’ spirits to this world and at the end of the festival floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes, and the sea to guide them back to the after world.


In the Jewish tradition, people leave a small stone or pebble when they visit a grave. I’ve had the privilege of visiting a cemetery while in Israel and performing such a custom.


In conclusion, cemeteries are not what the Western media would have us believe. In popular culture, cemeteries have something of a bad reputation, considered by many to be sad or creepy on their best day, and downright haunted on their worst. But treating cemeteries as spooky settings undermines their significance as the final resting place for those who have passed. Cemeteries are a place where those no longer with us are laid to rest, but they also provide solace to the living. Cemeteries also tend to make us think about how we would like to be treated after our own deaths. I’m sure there’s one thing on which we can agree: that we all hope to one day rest in peace.

 

 

sources

•        https://amp.theguardian.com Cemeteries are peaceful, open spaces – they can be for the living too by Katherine Feeney, Sat 25 Jun 2022

•        https://www.stylist.co.uk/travel Why I love graveyards: peaceful spots for quiet contemplation by Sarah Biddlecombe

•        www. savingplaces.org/stories “10 tips for researching historic cemeteries and burial grounds” by Sarah Heffern

•        https://thewackywanderers.com/ Why do you like cemeteries are you a taphophile? Posted by Diane Kaylyn Neldon Brians on October 21, 2018

 

•        https://www.smithsonianmag.com/ World’s Most Beautiful Cemeteries A visit to these hauntingly beautiful cemeteries illuminates more than just mortality by Lanee Lee, Travel + Leisure, October 22, 2014

•        https://catapult.co/ If you want peace go to a graveyard by Jason Diamond, Oct 31, 2017

•        https://www.readersdigest.ca/Canad’s most hauntingly beautiful cemeteries worth visiting, by Daniel Reid updated August 6. 2019

•        https://elac.ca/Peaceful places At rest: Erik Lees feels that the sacredness of a cemetery can translate to a regular garden The serenity and reverential tone of a cemetery garden can be an inspiration to all gardeners Steve Whysall Vancouver Sun Friday, March 01, 2002

•        https://bonesdontlie.wordpress.com/2014/09/09 “Cemeteries peaceful resting places or competitive interactive arenas” September 9 2014, by Kate Meyers Emery

•        https://hauntedhistorybc.com/Peaceful places full of soul

•        www.gadling.com Stressed out? Try walking in a cemetery by Laurel Miller on Sep 18, 2012

•        https://creativeloafing.com/ 5 cemeteries to revitalize your southern gothic By RODNEY CARMICHAEL Friday May 1, 2015

•        https://amp.theguardian.com Cemeteries are peaceful, open spaces – they can be for the living too by Katherine Feeney, Sat 25 Jun 2022

•        https://www.stylist.co.uk/travel Why I love graveyards: peaceful spots for quiet contemplation by Sarah Biddlecombe

•        www. savingplaces.org/stories “10 tips for researching historic cemeteries and burial grounds” by Sarah Heffern

•        https://thewackywanderers.com/ Why do you like cemeteries are you a taphophile? Posted by Diane Kaylyn Neldon Brians on October 21, 2018

 

 

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