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The Beauty of Burial

 

Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

COMMENTS have been added to the discussion on cremation. One reader says that my remarks against cremation show extreme insensitivity to those in grief. Also in that thread, Hannon writes:

The idea of returning to the earth, of the body having a resting place, seems very natural to me. Burning a body outside of need (pestilence, etc.) seems barbaric.

Who is not given pause for thought when they pass by a cemetery? The tombstones set me to wonder about the lives of those people. Recently, near the “30 Rock” building in New York City, I was amazed to see an ensconced cemetery behind an iron fence, grassy and antiquated looking, a brilliant juxtaposition of personal human history as against the backdrop of modern skyscrapers.

Reverence for those who have passed, in some measure, is a reflection of reverence for life. Cremation is sanitary, convenient disposal. Like the crosses posted at roadside tragedies in Latin America, appropriate reminders of death invite us to reflect on our own mortality and how our loved ones are dear to us.

— Comments —-

Will G. writes:

My father died almost six years ago. Thankfully, my mother recoiled at the thought of cremation. She had him buried in the outside wall of a chapel that overlooks the highway exit we all use frequently. We call it the ‘condo’. It is so close you can see his name when stopped at the light. Not exactly a peaceful rest but she is going to be buried next to him and said she didn’t want to go in the ground.

What I do find troubling is looking at all the other plaques surrounding his. There is the name, years from birth to death, and in the corner some little picture engraving of something that was apparently important to them. Some have crosses, some have entwined wedding bands, but quite a few have an engraving of a dog or some hobby. It seemed so banal – your spiritual preference being on the same level as your family pet. I think we are going to see a lot more of that kind of shallowness surrounding death.

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