Friday, August 14, 2009

Journal Entry - Week 7 - The Future of Cemeteries

I felt as though today stood out more than most here at Spring Grove. I say this because when we took a tour of the massive mausoleum complex, I could not help but think about the future of cemeteries. It is common knowledge that Spring Grove sprung up due to the precious real estate needed for development in the inner city, but what is to happen when the area that surrounds Spring Grove becomes much too valuable for “storage of the dead”? I think that this mausoleum tells the tale of that future. Simply witnessing the large number of bodies and memories contained in such a relatively small space gives proof to the future of our beloved past.

As much as no one would like to admit it, economics is the fundamental driving force in everyone’s life. Economics is influencing Spring Grove in such a way. Although they have many hundreds of acres left for traditional burial, the directors have come to realize that, to secure their future, alternatives must be developed. Moreover, it appears that many people, whether or not they realize it, are accepting this inevitability by accommodating the sterile environment of a mausoleum.

In addition, what is more of cemeteries in general? What is it that truly sends us to this ultimate resting place? Why do we seal off our bodies and place them in the earth or in a wall? I am afraid to report I cannot come to a tangible conclusion. I feel as though it would be necessary to experience other cultures and how they deal with their dead to fully understand the nature of American death rituals. Religion is a key figure in the disposal of our dead. We often have elaborate masses to culminate the life of our deceased and many individual levels of mourning that general follow for some time. On the other hand, many people consider the passing of people as a “wake,” or time when their life ends here on Earth and continues in another realm. Personally, I know that when I pass on to whatever comes next, I want it to be a celebration and a joyous time looking at what my life was. At length, I hope that by the time my tenure is up here at this particular cemetery, I will gain an overall sagacity of the dead and dying, and what is means to our culture; why we bury or entomb our dead.

1 comment:

  1. I should have expected that you would work the reality of economics into the topic- you have raised very insightful questions. And your addition of the quotes is great! Some of them are pithy little gems of sarcasm and brilliance. But I like the comments for the Pope best as it overlaps with what I see as one of the primary messages of the cemetery and perhaps the novel as well.