The National Funeral Directors Association states on their website that baby boomers see funerals as “a valuable part of the grieving process and are seeking ways to make them meaningful.” And unique: everyone these days wants to be an individual in death as much as they were in life.
Personally, I like that. While I can appreciate the regimented order of a military cemetery, the haphazard spread of markers of different materials, fonts, and symbols is much more interesting, and much more inviting. This particular marker, in a cemetery in Arrowtown on the South Island of New Zealand, shows a lovely uniqueness. I’ve never seen a marker of this particular green stone, and the way it has been left rough is quite attractive.
I’m not a baby boomer, but I have a preference for uniqueness as well. What about you? What sort of marker would you prefer (assuming you want one at all)?
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?
Last Friday, we visited Green-Wood Cemetery, a 478-acre cemetery in Brooklyn. It was founded in 1838 and, within thirty years, became a significant tourist attraction. I could spend days there looking at all the various angels and columns and interesting inscriptions. As it was, we had only about 1 1/2 hours, so we couldn’t see much.
Besides tours of the cemetery, other events, such as plays, are offered there. While we were in New York, the weather was rainy enough in the evenings that the productions were canceled. And what play were they offering at Green-Wood last week? If you guessed Our Town, you were right.
Sadly, the rain and clouds meant the morning we were there was hazy and overcast, so our pictures are not that impressive. Tempus fugit, and so does good light and propitious weather for the photographer.
If you have time while you are in New York to visit Green-Wood Cemetery, I would highly recommend it. Spend more than 1 1/2 hours there if you can — it’s beautiful, even on a dreary overcast day. And sweetly, many of the sculptures face northwest so that they, like this little angel, can spend eternity with an unobstructed view of Lower Manhattan, including the Statue of Liberty.
A friend of my mother’s wants to have her three dogs (who have been cremated and are in urns) placed in the casket with her when she is interred. The cemetery where her parents are located told her they wouldn’t allow it — though I don’t know how they’d know unless they decided to do a casket-search before burial. Anyway, this friend asked my mother if she could find out if the cemetery where my mother’s relatives are buried would allow cremated pets in the casket. Their reaction: “Sure, no problem.” Subsequently, this friend bought three lots in the cemetery, one for herself and two for her parents, whom she intends to move from where they are now.
All because of her dogs.
I have a feeling that’s what’s going on in this picture. At first, I thought the people had paid to have their Pomeranian “Oly” on the stone with them the same way people have their favorite sports logos or hobbies engraved on their markers. But I’m betting, if we were to open up one of those caskets, we’d find a little urn with Oly’s cremains inside.
If that’s so, then this cemetery clearly doesn’t mind a pet resting eternally with his or her owner. Which I think is sweet.
Many of us who like cemeteries are fascinated by the history they contain. This article discusses the “Graveyard Girls” who troop around to New England’s cemeteries, preserving their history and giving presentations. Wish I lived closer, so we could hang out at some cemeteries together!
So on Memorial Day, my husband took a picture of this stone, thinking he was taking a picture of the marker of a veteran.
As it turned out, not so much, actually.
If you look carefully, this person’s name was Ida, and she died at the age of five weeks. Her heartbroken parents have had engraved on her marker (admittedly in German): “Her life was a moment, a spring dream, an earthly happiness.”
I don’t begrudge her the flag.