Friday, July 8, 2011

Gravediggers: Respecting Death

Photo 1: A stone with a flying skull design. "Sept. 22, 1745."
Photo 2: A crypt with its own gate and descending stairs.  "No, please, after you."
Photo 3: A stone with a flying angel head design."Feb. ye 25th, 1785."

All photos taken from the same cemetery in Wentham, MA.  All designs are typical of the years on the stones.

I see Gravediggers working on many levels, especially how close the living are to the dead.  Death is all around us, psychically, emotionally, psychologically--but also spatially.  Has anyone noticed how many historic cemeteries there are out there?  We don't see them as we ignore Death, and the dead--the living equivalent of sending the elderly to their own slow demise in facilities.  These historic cemeteries are everywhere in New England--beside homes, next to Wal-Marts, behind churches, in the woods--everywhere!  They're also torn down and removed, like the one that used to be on a raised plot of land on the corner of West Shore and Buttonwoods, not where there is one now, in front of a small plaza, but where the senior care facility is now.  (So I guess that at least is an appropriate replacement; shows that we're not completely shunting Death aside.)  Also cemeteries are crudely vandalized these days; one on my father's street is now a pot den, as the descendents put up tall hedges that hid it from the road, and someone knocked down all the stones and piled them in the corners.  No respect for the living or the dead, there, and it shows you again the lack of respect for Death itself.  We do that all the time: the dying end their days in hospitals and only rarely at home (a parent and two grandparents of mine died at home); the elderly and soon-to-be-dying get shipped to facilities.  Hell, even the Eskimos used to do better: when short on food, they'd place the oldest on ice floats and chip away at the ice until they floated away by themselves into the distance, never to be seen (or fed) again.  Is what we do to our elderly really that much different?

No comments:

Post a Comment