Cemeteries have served as a transcendental site to mourn and honor the dead for hundreds of years, and, while seemingly centered around death, they have also always been an integral part of life. The history of cemeteries goes back to basic plots on family homesteads and small graveyards surrounding country churches. The need for more space led to the creation of larger cemeteries, generally on the outskirts of town. Traditionally, cemeteries were an essential and scenic part of every community, often featuring an elaborate entrance gate and stunning sculptures or greenery. Townspeople of the past even used cemeteries as a place to gather in good spirits and enjoy time outdoors.
In recent times, as more people recognize the importance of memorialization in the grieving process and as the desire for alternative burial options increases, cemeteries have evolved. Contemporary memorial parks emphasize the simplistic beauty of nature and of life by utilizing flat stones and including just a few tall monuments to represent hope. More modern options, such as a columbarium or a cremation bench, meet the needs of individuals who wish to be cremated. Some cemeteries have also aimed to better support those who are grieving by designing features like memorial walls, healing paths, and sacred spaces to gather or meditate.
Because burial signifies the finality of death, it can be a key part of the journey through grief for many individuals. Spending time at a gravesite encourages peace in knowing that a loved one is at rest. Besides paying tribute to a person’s life and legacy, permanent memorials can help sustain the feeling of a physical connection with the deceased. They also offer a place for others to remember and honor the decedent far into the future.
With Memorial Day approaching, there are a few etiquette reminders for upholding a respectful cemetery visit:
- Stand or sit on a headstone or monument unless that is what it was designed for
- Take photos of other people or of a burial occurring
- Remove anything from someone else’s gravesite
- Follow the posted rules
- Keep pets on a leash and clean up after them
- Be aware of your volume
If you are interested in learning more about cemeteries, burial options, or the connection between gravesites and grief, contact your local funeral home. The professionals there can also help assist you in designing a permanent memorial for you or a loved one.