Cemeteries Tell Us More About the Living Than the Dead

Here is a list of questions I thought about while I walked through a local cemetery today. I hope it brings serenity and a new perspective on your life.

  • All the babies who died not long after birth, how long did it take for their parents to endure such loss?
  • The fathers and sons that died two days apart from each other, laying side by side. What happened? Did they get into an accident together? Were they close before they died?
  • All the named and unnamed ones who died in WWII, what would their lives be flourishing out to be had they stayed alive?
  • The woman who died 2 years after her marriage, at age 50, finally finding true love, was she happy?
  • The ones who lay in the huge tombs with expensive granite headstones, were they happy? Were they loved by their sons and daughters who erected such monuments for them or is it more pride and fame?
  • The ones who lay in the small graves with bunched flowers and toys, clearly frequently visited, were they this loved in their lives too? Were there fights, regrets, or guilt in their lives?
  • The ones who lay in the graves where you can barely make out the names. Have their sons & daughters & grandchildren died out? Have the family moved away? Did they have children? 
  • How many of these people in the graveyard died before their time? how many people died with pain? how many people died living a full life and leaving a legacy behind? How many died peacefully?
  • How many people have a graveyard spot reserved for them in anticipation? 

As of today, July 5, 2020, there were 533k deaths worldwide from Coronavirus. There were 132k deaths in the U.S. 

How many more graveyards are we digging to bury the dead? Will they have others to mourn for them? 

“They were what we are,

Dust, toy of the wind;

Fragile like men,

Weak like nothing.”

–Alphonse de Lamartine, Catacombs of Paris

life may seem meaningless, fragile, and minute in comparison to the inevitable death, the universe, and eternity, but, I didn’t write this article to make you depressed, sad, and hallow in your chest. 

When I visit graveyards and cemeteries, I reflect on whether I am living knowing that I will die. Cemeteries are the physical structures that confront our denial of mortality. It should give you a powerful punch across the face because we are small and fragile, and we aren’t here forever. It makes me feel the urgency of life knowing I have limited time. 

It’s time to live the boldest, unapologetic, and badass life you can ever imagine! Give your life meaning. Say more yes to the crazy invitations of the world. Oh and also, wear a mask.

*See this brief explanation about optimistic nihilism here