For the love of Cemeteries

IMG_0118

I have a love of cemeteries. I always have done, always will have.  Some of you may think strolling through a cemetery and this past time quite macabre, whereas I find it fascinating.  I know some of you may share this 'hobby' of mine.  To walk amongst the dead,  gives me reverence for those who have lost their lives and inner tranquility.

Because our country (Australia) is relatively new (243 years) or thereabouts when Captain James Cook first landed declaring it Terra Nullius, we do not have the historic cemeteries of Europe, or indeed other countries.  Regardless, I never tire visiting or reading the loving words etched in stone.

The picture above also depicts the sparseness of the land, with the sugar cane (that is abundant in Queensland) and the picturesque mountains in the background, this is because as of 2011 there were 1733 people living in this small town of Mossman, so to put it politely, they have space.

As I strolled from site to site, I noticed vases with plastic flowers that had been blown or knocked from the grave. I tended to these, I could not walk past without doing so. I refilled any rocks or pebbles that had been spilt out of the vases and arranged the flowers or ornaments back on the grave as they were intended. On some sites, I would say a few words to those that lay beneath and wonder about the families that have either passed away, moved town or do not care to pay homage any longer.

When we were away, Mr. S played a round of Golf, I on the other hand wanted to visit the small cemetery.

The oldest grave was 1938, the majority of them were in the 1960's to current. I took the one below because they were a Czech couple (my Pop/dad) is Czech. They both escaped the War as he did, I stood and thought of him when I read this.

IMG_0117

When I was in the UK I remember visiting Highgate:-    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highgate_Cemetery

Some graves, yes admittedly have brought a tear to my eye, especially when I see the graves of little ones,  but as I read the words (some barely visible) I am transported back to their time and stand absorbed and pensive, thinking of who they were and what their life was like before they passed.

At Highgate there are approximately 170,000 buried.  Some of the people laid to rest here include, the parents of Author Charles Dickens and some of his family. Jean Simmons the actress , Karl Marx, poets, painters, soldiers and more.  Below is one of graves with a fallen Angel.  Who lies beneath her I wonder?

220px-Sepulcro_con_ángel

Also in the UK, we visited Grasmere in Cumbria and saw the grave (below) of William Wordsworth the poet.

http://www.poetsgraves.co.uk/wordsworth.htm

wwgrave_small

When we visited France in 2001,  my daughters and I went to Pere Lachasie Cemetery

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Père_Lachaise_Cemetery .

images-3

Here lies Sarah Bernhardt, Frederick Chopin, Isadora Duncan, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison to name a few.

Which brings me to my last photo taken at Mossman Cemetry.

IMG_0119

and I am lain beneath hard earth
I feel no pain, nor cold or heat of sun
I hear no voices, or hear the distant waves
nor view the sparkle in your eyes

and those that witness where I lay
my name revealed to you and how I passed
spare a thought for me, for I once
stood above this earth as you

and if my name's invisible
please stand and honour me as my loved
ones have moved on and leave an
unmarked cross, to show that I once breathed

Perhaps this is why I feel I have the calling to be a funeral celebrant. Maybe my love of walking around cemeteries has something to do with this(in a Freud type of way) Do you walk around Cemeteries like I?

Advertisements

27 thoughts on “For the love of Cemeteries

  1. Like yourself, I have often visited cemeteries. I don’t think that it’s macabre at all. They keep us in touch with our mortality and remind us to value each day. I also think about what their lives might have been like – I have always enjoyed history, particularly as it applies to the ordinary person. Valuing the lives and contributions of strangers such as the Kanaks is important, too.

    Lovely tribute poem, Jen. 🙂

    • That they do Lyn and I am pleased to see that others feel as I do. I did not know of the Kanaks and I have visited New Caledonia (terrible when one has to Google) but I thank you for educating me. The history of the person, their life, something that the living can embrace of those who’ve passed. Thank you Lyn. xx

  2. I have always been intrigued and drawn to the cemetery… especially when I was younger (I actually spent one summer doing rubbings of the stones at Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria BC) somehow I had forgotten the feeling of the pull cemeteries can have, it is almost a magical yet lonely feeling similar to that of old abandoned buildings, filled with the echoes of yesteryear and un-nameable emotion… it has been a long time since I have wandered through a cemetery – I had lived in a small town that barely had one, got sidetracked by raising children, and was married to someone who did not understand, etc… but recently a friend on FB whose hobby is photography has been posting pictures from local graveyards in her area… it has caused a stirring within me… so reading this at this particular point and time seems very fitting… perhaps I shall plan a visit to the local cemetery here and I shall take my camera with me…

    • How beautifully written Andrea, I am glad that you have been inspired to take up your camera. Many a tale can be shown in the pictures of sites, the details of the tombs, the life that once lived. Wander through and please write a post about it, I would love to read and know your thoughts. Thank you for reading and commenting as you have. xx

    • Oops, Jen, I was referring to the Kanak family that’s named on one of the headstones in your pictures. I didn’t know about the Kanaks of New Caledonia, either. Sorry for the confusion. Sometimes I express myself so well!

  3. I understand what you are saying in this post RM and your connection with being a FC. I live near several very old cemeteries, as old as we in Australia can get, my concern when I visit is the neglect that happens. It is natural that families move on and the monuments to family remain but I find it distressing that over time they too decay. This is why I have told my kids to cremate me. Though going to my local cemetery and seeing where my forebears lie does give me some sense of connection to family. I agree with you about the sadness of children’s graves. In the Newcastle cemetery there is a huge stone with the names of the children buried in the cemetery for as you know many we’re not buried in separate graves. That is a sad sight.

    • Summer – thank you. Yes unfortunately, family and friends move on and the graves are then neglected. I will be cremated and either a memorial plaque at the cemetery be placed or whoever wishes to keep me in their home can do so, or perhaps scatter part of me in the rolling waves on a brilliant summer eve at sunset. It is so sad when I see weeds overtaking, or vases smashed, flowers spilt, for those who are buried this is the only connection we can have with them. A place to come and reflect, to speak to our lost ones. When cremated, family can still do this, but having them in an urn on your mantlepiece or table, somehow does not have the same reverence. I would like to read a post if you visit the cemetery again. Thank you. x

  4. oh me too me too…smiles…i grew up with a cemetary in the back yard….way before i wrote poetry i used to write songs and would go down there at night and sit among the stones and write….there is a wonderful cemetery near hear that is pre civil war….some amazing sights…..there are many relics of the city there as well…

    • Oh Brian how amazing, please write something about one near you now,if you can, I would love to read. The inspiration that writers draw from sitting amongst the stones.. we connect.. the feelings come from the pit of our stomachs, I am sure you would agree. Thank you for reading.

  5. I always loved cemeteries, ever since I was a girl. People think I’m odd for it but now I know I’m not, or at least I’m not odd alone 😉 We have some really cool old cemeteries here, dating back to the early-mid 1700s. The town I’m in was run by Mason’s for a while, the stone work of some of the buildings is awesome alone but the grave markers? I was (ironically) writing something earlier and I started writing about my favorite grave marker, it’s about 8 feet tall, shaped like a tree. It LOOKS like a tree, it was carved complete with bark and knots and birds on branches, and a vase filled with Lily of the Valley. I’ve been in a lot of cemeteries, and have seen a lot of stone work, I’ve never seen anything like that tree, it’s beautiful. The only creepy thing about it is the name written on it is mine. No date, no last name, just “Jennie” carved in it. That bugged me out a bit when I noticed 😉

    • are you able to take a photo of this ‘tree’ I would love to see it and thank you Jennie – may I now call you by your name and not CK? Thank you for such an interesting story – no need to feel bugged by it, I don’t think ‘it’s calling you’, but it does sounds fascinating. I would love to hear the story or who it was made for, if you could find out? Thank you for such a great comment. Yours…Rams/Jenny 😉 xx

      • You may call me Jennie 🙂 I know I have pictures of it, I’ve been trying to find them. There’s quite a few stones in that cemetery that are interesting, as soon as I find them I’ll share them with you!

        I’ve been trying to find out more about the people that tree was for but, so far nothing. I make up stories for them when I’m there though 😉

  6. That was grand of you to right the vases that needed righting … and to spend some time with those who’s time had gone. I think if their families knew what you did, it would make them happy.

    You will do fine I think, in your new work nod nods.

    *hugs to you my friend*

    • Thank you and hello my lovely lady, so happy to see you on here. Yes, unfortunately the caretakers at the grounds, do not really bother, they mow the lawns and that is about it.
      Thank you – that is so very sweet of you – I hope so.
      {{gentle hugs}} to you xx

  7. My kids and I love walking through cemeteries. They are so peaceful and I also love reading the tombstones. On our trip a few months ago we were going to drive out of our way just so we could see some tombstones of famous cowboys. We ended up deciding against it because it would have cost us another night in a hotel but we do love doing stuff like that!

    • Hello and welcome Audrey. I as you have probably gathered are fascinated with them. I can stand for the longest time reading the headstone, imagining who lays beneath, what they were like. It is a place of calm and inspiration for me.

  8. I love to walk through cemeteries also, the older the better. I always have, even as a teenager, I feel very close to history and ‘life’. To spend time thinking about those ‘forgotten’ so long ago makes me feel connected. I will definitely be returning to your blog. 🙂

You have spent the time popping in - Please don't waste it - share a comment on what you have read.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s