In another life

No matter what you believe about life, death or religion, the cemetery can really put things into perspective. My husband thought this post too morbid to put up, but I think it’s real. Why aren’t we talking about it more?

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We visited the famous Bonaventure Cemetery from the book The Garden of Good and Evil while in Savannah, Georgia a couple of years ago. It was more of a wake up call for me than anything else. A real slap in my face. Besides the fact the cemetery is absolutely stunning and peaceful, it  brought to my attention, in no subtle manner, that one day we will all be gone. And all the things I’ve accumulated over the years….where will all that “stuff” end up? It will still be here. That didn’t put my soul at ease.

Impossible to make out some of the names on the worn stones, I wondered if anyone knew who they were. What they did. What their life was like. If they made a difference. What they laughed about. Whom they loved.

One entire family was wiped out by a disease, one child after another. I wondered how long the mother survived after that. How long before her heart went out like a snuffed flame. My husband and I walked on in silence, surrounded by quiet, graceful beauty and sadness.

Who were these people? What were their stories? Their hopes and dreams? The brightest day of their lives? Would anyone know the last thought that swirled thorough their head? And I wondered about all the things they left behind, the legacy that outlived them. Their belongings.

What will we leave behind if we can’t take it with us? Where will it end up? If our belongings outlive us, what burden are we leaving for those behind us? 

Take a look at the beauty of the cemetery while you think about where all your stuff will end up. And to end on a non-morbid note, have a beautiful day. And remember that you are wonderful. Life is short. Enjoy each and every moment. And love as hard and as much as you can.

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12 responses to “In another life

  1. There is a documentary we just watched that was fascinating. About if humans were to suddenly disappear, what things on the planet would look like from this point forward without our impact. Much I never even considered. Well worth waiting for the DVD in my Netflix queue.

  2. Oh, I am glad you didn’t listen. This is a tremendous post- it’s something that I actually think about quite a bit, oddly enough, because we do paranormal stuff by way of a hobby. 🙂 Walking around abandoned places, cemeteries and the like- we do often remark about “What were their stories? Their dreams?” It’s hard not to think about the lives those people had when you’re walking around, seeing that and it does tend to put things into perspective. Cemeteries are usually the most peaceful, in spite of what other teams seem to find and think. That is usually where I feel they are actually resting most of the time. (Been a few weird ones, but for the most part, this holds true.) It’s their homes, their belongings and places where the high emotions happened that tend to have the most activity. (If you believe such things- and I do. I respect those who don’t, though.) To me, that’s always been such a sad thing- that someone would be so bound by their belongings and experiences that even once passed- they don’t rest.

    • yes, a beautiful article about a lively observation about life and its end, about what we accumulate and the time we actually spend on our part of this planet. sorry, must go to the closet and reduce the impact i will have on the inheritors of my little world. hey, cemeteries are a way to reflect upon all we do and don’t do..this one is a work of art all the way through..not morbid at all. unless you dwell upon the melancholy. sadness is a restful state of mind if absorbed in small measure.

  3. I love cemeteries. I look at dates and wonder…..!

  4. While they may be beautiful, cemeteries are one of the biggest anti-environmental wastes of land out there. You want to practice zero waste? Make sure your final arrangements include an environmentally friendly way of dealing with your remains that don’t 1) take up space for the rest of human existence, 2) don’t leach harmful chemicals into the earth, or 3) use precious resources like lumber to box up your corpse for the rest of time.
    I want to be planted, chemical free, under a tree. When I’m gone, I’m gone. I’m no narcissist, I don’t need a monument and plot of earth to forever be All Mine.

    • what a thoughtful comment, true, despite the peace and beauty of someone’s restful place..the high maintenance of funerary practices leaves a nasty footprint on the final homes of the departed. i dream of an embroidered body bag, cotton applique and mementos, a deep hole in the backyard and albums full of old me with family and friends,on the coffee tables of descendants..good food and memories..period. under law, i may have to settle for cremation, cough, cough.

  5. I loved this thoughtful post–thank you! While I agree with the comments that cemeteries are far from green, I do find them peaceful and lovely to photograph. One of my favorite cemeteries was Pere Lachaise in Paris, with the graves of Chopin (my favorite composer), Moliere, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison…the list goes on…it was fascinating to me. The sculptures on the graves are works of art, even for the “non-famous” among them.

  6. Lovely post, I spend some time in cemeteries, usually on holidays and there’s some great photo ops to be had. Shannon’s the second person to mention that doco (which seems to be very similar to the book I reviewed on Tuesday) so I’ll have to look into it. I think it’s an each way bet – a cremation takes serious fuel, surely? And a buried body, naturally, without chemicals, surely only adds back to the earth? Especially if you go for a cardboard box (which is the Jewish compromise between the laws of their faith and their area’s laws).

  7. Not morbid at all. It’s something that comes to us all. I love old cemeteries…some of the old headstones are so artistic. Good lessons in history to be learned there too.

  8. I’m glad you posted this too, I definitely think it’s more realistic than morbid. I have been thinking about this idea of all the “stuff” left behind…and from watching Hoarders, no less (I don’t know why I watch that show, it gives me anxiety!! I can’t stand until it’s all cleaned up!!). But it really makes you realize it’s not about the “things” in life, not at all. I also started a new list of get rid of 50 things again- just went through all my clothes and got a pile for my sisters to look through before it gets donated. I think it struck a chord with me, you don’t want to leave behind this mess for anyone later. And you can’t take any worldly possessions with you, you just have your memories. Another reason I am trying to spend my money more on experiences instead of “things”.

    Also, interesting points about the eco concerns of cemeteries. My mom always talked about it, so I guess it’s something I have thought about, (and yet I thought that seemed so morbid, but now I see the wisdom in her practicality).

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  10. Really lovely statement. I wonder all those things too when I think of strangers who have left — those in the obituaries and those in the cemeteries. And I wonder about all these things around me. I don’t want to burden other people with the “stuff” that I leave behind.

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