Michael Jackson. Farrah Fawcet. Ed McMahon. Billy Mays. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reminded that celebrities die just like the rest of us.
This year, I have visited eight different cemeteries in the course of my calling as a counselor in the bishopric and as I have sought to honor my own relatives who have passed away. I have been to five funerals/viewings in the past seven months, including three where I sang. I’ve even recently done some banking business with a mortuary in Salt Lake City. So naturally, I have been thinking about the meaning of cemeteries and grave markers. I’ve also been pondering a bit on how I want to be remembered.
Earlier this week at a viewing of a friend’s mother, I saw this quote at a cemetery. I jotted it down because I liked what it said:
“This is a cemetery. Lives are commemorated. Deaths are recorded. Families are reunited. Memories are made tangible and love is undisguised. This is a cemetery. Communities accord respect. Families bestow reverence. Historians seek information and our heritage is thereby enriched. Testimonies of devotion, pride and remembrance are cast in bronze to pay warm tribute to the accomplishments and to the life – not the death of a loved one. A cemetery is a homeland for memorials that are a sustaining source of comfort to the living. A cemetery is a history of people – a perpetual record of yesterday, a sanctuary of peace and quiet today. This cemetery exists because every life is worth loving and remembering always.”
Over Memorial Day Weekend, we took the kids to the Salt Lake Cemetery to visit the graves of some of the prominent leaders in the LDS Church. It turned out to be a bit of a scavenger hunt and we found over half of the gravesites of the 15 deceased church presidents. Here are a few pictures of their graves:
It’s interesting to think of how our loved ones would summarize our lives in a few short words carved into stone or cast into bronze. What would you want your epitaph to say? What are your thoughts on how to remember and honor the dead?