Category Archives: links

A few thoughts on happiness

OK, so I hate that Pharrell song “Happy” that the folks on the radio won’t stop playing.  But happiness is important.  This article lists several ways the lives of people who report being happy differ from those who don’t.  Spoiler alert: go outside, take a hike, do volunteer work, live in the moment.  Also, find some meaning in what you do.  The article says,

“People who strive for something personally significant, whether it’s learning a new craft, changing careers or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations,” wrote Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a University of California Riverside professor of psychology, in her book The How of Happiness. “Find a happy person, and you will find a project.”

Though this may seem like an odd topic for a blog called Cemetery Chick, I think it’s important to look at death-related issues with an eye to appreciating the life we’re living now.  It’s one reason I’ve had my students contemplate what they’d like in their obituaries someday — not to make them consider dying, but to make them think about how they want to live.  What do they want to accomplish?  What would they like others to remember about them?

What would you like others to remember about you?

The quest for the lost

Did you know that the remains of thousands of people who are cremated go unclaimed?  That creamatoria, funeral homes, and cemeteries often have shelves full of boxes awaiting family members to pick them up, and that these boxes may have been there for years, or decades?

I had no idea until I read an essay by Thomas Lynch in his book The Undertaking.  Lynch, a funeral director, realized his funeral home was storing a closet full of boxes of cremains.  Fortunately for him, he worked in a small town, and so locating a family member and encouraging him or her to come pick up Aunt Thelma wasn’t that difficult.

Most places have a much more difficult time connecting the dead with the living, once the dead have been forgotten.

One organization that wants to make a difference to many of the people who remain in their boxed earthly limbo is the Missing in America Project.  This organization, which went nationwide in 2007, is endeavoring to find the remains of forgotten veterans, and to provide them with the burial with full military honors they deserve.

To date, the organization has found and buried over 1900 veterans.

Check out their website to see how you can help make sure all of America’s veterans are located and properly honored.


For the living

Cemeteries are certainly places for the dead, but I believe, as I think this article makes clear, they are also places for the living.  If you want a cemetery to remain a place that is beautiful, peaceful, and worth placing your loved ones, it should be a part of, and embraced by, the community.  People who value the cemetery will be the ones who cherish it, protect it, and maintain it.  And, in return, the green space, the wildlife, and the peacefulness of the area will help maintain the visitors, too.

Why not an egg hunt?