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Tuesday, March 19, 2013
It’s time to rethink cemeteries.
This was my thought — one of them, anyway — on my last visit to the cemetery where my parents’ funeral urns are buried, hundreds of miles away from here.
I think about my parents often, but I haven’t been to their grave site in a year. It’s just too far away.
The urns are nice. In a different culture — one less afraid of death — they might not be out of place on a fireplace mantel or a windowsill.
While writing about Roanoke Valley immigrants back in the ’ 90s, I visited a family who had set aside a room in their house for paying respects to their ancestors. I don’t remember if ashes were present, and it hardly matters.
Their ritual respect was lovely — so much better than guilt and neglect. Old cemeteries are nice, if they’re well-maintained. But America has plenty of them already, and the living need the space.
My apologies to all who make their money from the perpetual care of human remains, but why not just keep the ashes of those we love ourselves, or else scatter them to the winds?
In an age of cellphone videos and unlimited digital storage, there are better ways to remember our dead.
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