Our approach to ancestral burial sites may say more about us than them
I often begin my discussions with community groups asking, “How many of you grew up going to funerals? How many have bathed the body of a loved one after death? Who has been present during a cremation? Lowered a body into a grave? Or helped to close a grave, with a shovel or handful of earth?”
Here in the highly secular Pacific Northwest, at the far edge of the continent where the majority of us whose people came from Europe have shed generation upon generation of custom and culture, very few hands rise in affirmation. Recently I accompanied a woman to a graveyard – the first she’d ever been to, in her more than five decades of life.
Lacking any direct connection to our ancestral funeral rites, it’s no wonder that so many in these times turn to “My Life. My Death. My Way.” Death as what Stephen Jenkinson terms “a personal style event”. Even when we seek to learn from how it was before the modern funeral industry replaced the family and community in caring for our dead, we see through the lens of individualism and personal choice. Read More