Recently there has been what news organizations might call a rash of cemetery thefts in the area. People are, understandably, upset; they’ve spend tens to hundreds of dollars decorating the plots of their loved ones, only to have those decorations taken by someone else.
For me, though, this all begs the question: why spend so much money to leave flowers in a field?
Your lost loved one is gone. There’s no way of knowing if they see you putting flowers on their grave. The act of decorating gravesites is for the mourner, not the deceased–it’s a way of keeping that person’s memory alive. Why, I ask, do you have to do it in this certain way?
I say, remember your loved ones in a more special way. Scrapbook. Set aside a certain day or time to think about them. Tell your kids/friends/family stories about them. Write about them. Cook their favorite meal and enjoy it with others who miss them.
You can’t buy meaning.
I haven’t lost a lot of friends or family, knock on wood. My great-grandmother is buried in Mount Sterling, and I think I know where the cemetery is…but I haven’t been there since she was interred. I remember her when I’m at the farm, and through my grandmother, and through the stories my dad tells. When I think about growing my hair out, I think about how she apparently had hair down to her ankles when she was younger–quite a feat, even if she was barely over four feet tall.
My grandfather died close to a decade ago. I know where he’s buried, but I have only been there once or twice. However, for many years I drove his car, and every time I got behind the wheel I thought of him. Whenever I see cute old men I think of how cute he got towards the end, and how he was always flirting with his nurses. I will always remember his bright blue eyes and how joyful they always seemed. And even though I lost it in the fire, I will always remember that last picture I took with him.
I just don’t think we need a location to go to for remembering. I think we are the best vessels for that. No matter where we are, the ones we love are with us in our memories. We can bring them anywhere we want to, and share them with whomever we choose.
In a few hundred years, when all available land is filled with cemeteries, will we think they are as important as we seem to think they are now?
I would rather be cremated and strewn in a garden. There doesn’t need to be a marker. I’m forward-thinking. Things change. That garden might need to become homes, or it might need to transition back into wild territory. The needs of the living should not take a backseat to the dead.
Those remains are not your loved one. Your loved one is inside you and everyone they knew and in the world they shaped through their life. Not in the ground. I don’t see the point of using up so much land to create a place that you end up going to out of a sense of duty, and not a desire to honor the lost.
There is going to come a time when our descendants have to decide what to do with all the cemeteries, unless something changes now.