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Are traditional cemeteries, as we know them, dying?

Will we only be able to read “Here lies...” on headstones in our older cemeteries?
St. Peter’s Quamichan’s historic cemetery is the kind T.W. Paterson prefers.

Thanks to technology, you can now attend your own funeral. Or, to put it another way, you can literally speak from beyond the grave.

So a recent news story tells us; in fact, in the United States, messages and videos pre-recorded by the deceased are increasingly becoming a part of modern funeral services.

In short, you can posthumously recite your own eulogy on-screen, thereby saving your family and friends the often heartbreaking task of gathering up photos and other memorabilia to create their own power-point tributes and such. This even extends to cemeteries. Now you can access a recorded message, the high-tech equivalent of a headstone inscription, with your smartphone as you stand at the foot of a grave.

Sigh. Where will it all end? With the new trend in “green” burials (no casket, no marker), will cemeteries as we know them become a thing of the past? Will we no longer be able to stroll beneath the trees, admiring the works of monument makers, many of which are works of art?


Will we only be able to read “Here lies...” on headstones in our older cemeteries?

I’ve written here before that cemeteries, particularly older country cemeteries, have always fascinated me. They’re more park-like than places of death, hence they’re anything but morbid or depressing, and the inscriptions have, for me, at least, been a treasure trove of information and inspiration for my columns.

With no need of the latest in modern technology, headstones do speak to us, not just in the few words of their various inscriptions, but in their physical forms that often border on artistry and which tell us so much about the people who had them commissioned for their loved ones.

I could recite numerous epitaphs to be found in Valley cemeteries; I have, in fact, done so in previous columns. Inscribed in granite, marble, concrete and wood, they’re invariably expressions of love and they’re meant to be shared with the world at large.

I don’t need nor want a mobile app to inform me about a grave’s occupant. I’ll settle for a genuine, old fashioned cemetery beneath the trees, with genuine, old-fashioned tombstones and their brief inscriptions and/or quotes of Scripture, thank you, and leave the high-tech to those so inclined.

The accompanying photos say it best. Let’s save high-tech for other areas of our lives and keep our cemeteries as they’ve always been: green, silent and peaceful with traditional headstones and epitaphs.

P.S: I apologize for failing to credit John and Glenda Cheramy of Victoria who so kindly allowed me to reproduce the great underground coal mine postcard that appeared with last Friday’s Chronicle.