OK, I know the blog has been dead–no pun intended–for a week or so, but it was with good reason! I just returned a couple days ago (OK more like four days ago) from my trip out East for a job interview with S.C.I. or Service Corporation International for those of you that are unfamiliar with the abbreviation. I was in Boston/Cambridge for a week from September 26th through October 3rd and it was wonderful, the most wonderful part being that they made me an offer. Catching up with friends and good food tied for second place though.
Anyway, with all that being said, I wanted to just quickly put some ideas out there for upcoming posts: euthanasia, the rural cemetery movement, casket hardware, mania for the macabre, and taphophilia. I have started all of these independently in my drafts, but we’ll see how I do once my perfectionism takes hold. Aside from posts, I am also starting to work on a morbid/macabre bucket list that I intend to create a page for on this blog. My Uncle Jim and several friends were my inspiration.
I’ll leave you with an interesting factoid and a picture from my trip to Mount Auburn.
Christian burials were traditionally made supine east (feet)-west (head). This is still how a typical funeral procession in and out of a Christian church is oriented. There are several reasons offered for this burial tradition. One reason is that it mirrors the layout of Christian churches. Another, often cited in conjunction with the aforementioned reason, is that upon resurrection the individual may view the coming of Christ on Judgment Day. On the other hand, ordained clergy are traditionally buried in the opposite orientation and their caskets are carried likewise. The belief, I have heard from several priests, is so that they may rise facing, and ready to minister to, their people upon resurrection.
Filed under Art, Cemetery
Last week on Friday, I posted about technology and death, specifically social technology like Facebook and apps like If I Die. From there, I linked to an article that addressed the idea of Facebook as the first major e-cemetery. While I find this to be an interesting view, I find myself agreeing more with a commentator (from a Reddit thread) who equated it (Facebook pages of deceased users) with a “modern photo album, …hav[ing] all the profiles stored away in an ‘Attic’ of sorts.” Rather than seeing Facebook as an e-cemetery, I see it as the digital equivalent to photo albums and scrapbooks–maybe even a memorial–chronicling the life of its users.
Although Facebook has a memorialization process, I do not believe that “Facebook has replaced the cemetery – as a place for people to go and remember,” as Arlene, in an interview with the Daily Dot, phrased it. Maybe in 20 or 30 years this could be the case, depending on the trajectory of technology and its impact on humanity. However, even then, I see a site like FindAGrave.com, which provides anyone with internet access the ability to find the graves of ancestors complete with photos, the ability to create virtual memorials, add ‘virtual flowers’ and add a note to a loved one’s grave, replacing the cemetery and a trip to a loved ones burial place rather than Facebook.
With all that being said, the digital supplanting the real is hard for me to really fathom. Why? Well, consider this: in most cultures, there is a belief that there is something in humans that lives beyond the death of the corporal body. This belief signifies that we want to believe there is something special about us and that there is more than our mortal existence, that there is something more to everything. This reinforces the idea that people are innate meaning-makers. I think this is a universal human phenomena. And thus, I believe there is something to be said about this.
Humans seek to make memorials. Market research has shown time and time again that families seek funeral service to meet their emotional needs; families pay for value and are interested in creating memories rather than just simply having a funeral service (Gould 2010). It is this tendency (creating meaning/ seeking to create memorials) that begets the human need to make pilgrimages–whether it be literal, metaphorical and purely cerebral, or a little of both. As humans we do not, and cannot, live entirely within our minds. Many memories are tied to physical places or other physical aspects of the world as perceived by the senses. Coupling this with our culture’s desire for immortality, often acomplished through the leaving of a legacy and some sort of physical death memorial, it becomes a little more evident at least for me that these “digital places to go and remember” (likely) will not replace the cemetery in its entirety. Or at least not any time soon.