Death is something people seldom talk about, but it happens to be one of my favorite topics.
In my free time, I enjoy exploring area cemeteries. There is so much unappreciated beauty that fills the grounds of a cemetery. From the statuesque
graves, towering obelisks, and extravagant mausoleums, to the smallest or toppled grave that has long been forgotten, there is something to appreciate and admire with each and every one. I often wonder who that person may have been, how their life may have ended.
I prefer to seek out older graves, especially those from the 1800s. To me, they are the most beautiful. They are often slightly or even significantly decayed. Some have old quotes or sayings about death and the afterlife that I find fascinating. Almost always the names and dates of the deceased are hard to make out. The unknown history behind them makes them a mystery I will never know.
Cemeteries are one of the most calm and serene places to clear your head. The nature that fills these places is something to note. The death that surrounds me here is a constant reminder that if anything, I am alive. It reminds me to appreciate everything, each day, each breath, and to not be afraid to die. Death is inevitable. To embrace it and appreciate the beauty in it seems much more reasonable than to pretend like it’s something that doesn’t happen.
There are a few different renderings of a quote that I often think of when I walk through a cemetery. It speaks of each person having two deaths. The first is when we pass away. Our families remember us and reminisce about us for years following. But with each new generation, our memory fades, and in time most of us are completely forgotten. That is our second and final death. When I am walking, I like to try to not let these souls be forgotten. I often find myself clearing off the gravestones or sites that have become overgrown or neglected. Although I have never known that person, or their family, it is a simple gesture that I find calming and somehow satisfying. To know that for a moment, that person was thought of, remembered, even in the slightest way.
So the next time you find yourself in a cemetery, whether it’s to visit a loved one or just to clear your head, take the time to say hello to a few others. You could be prolonging their second death.
Everybody’s life has a meaning and a purpose. And some day it will end. The cemetery reminds me of that. But it also gives focus and clarity, which is helpful in charting the path ahead. As you chart yours, don’t be afraid to live and don’t be afraid to die. Remember there is beauty to be found in everything, even in a cemetery, and even in death.