How To Visit A Graveyard
I have at long last found an amazing local graveyard, and as I walked around it, I wanted to write some encouragement for you to go graveyard hunting!
It’s one of my fave hobbies. Its not only a great way to feel ghosty, but also to connect with your local area, learn some history, get out doors, and be immanent. I especially want to encourage my copingkin followers, or ghosts with mental health troubles, to go visit your local graveyard. They are such peaceful places, and a great excuse to go for a walk.
1. Respect the living
The dead don’t care, as far as I can tell. Graveyards are for the living, and the living get pissed. Dress down - leave the black lace parasol at home. No pagan stuff or rituals unless what you are doing is indistinguishable from “a nice walk”. No make-outs. If you see another person - or as often happens, a funeral - simply make yourself scarce. Finally, if you are taking photos, avoid any graves from the 1940s or later - as they may have living relatives.
2. Good things to bring: good shoes, graveyards can be uneven to walk on. A camera. I like to bring plastic bags and gardening gloves. Appropriate weather gear. Some tissues - many yards will have toilets, but they aren’t always kept regularly.
3. Take care of your graveyard, and it will take care of you. I like to litter-pick as I go, as a way of saying thank you; I often stand planters back upright or clear away stones and debris obscuring a name (never do this at Jewish cemetaries, as leaving a rock each time you visit is a custom - it’s normal to see small piles of stones on their flat stones)
4. Photos look best with high contrast between light and shade. Overcast days and midday sun are only really good if you want a personal record of a cool stone you’ve found. For the dramatic, I-can’t-believe-how-easy-this-is photography, the long magic hours as the sun comes up and down gift you gold light, intense contrasts and deep black shadows. Even if you plan to make finished stills B&W, they will look better taken on a sun&shade day.
5. Cool things to look out for:
* People from different eras.
* People from different cultures, representing waves of immigration to your area.
* terrible poems
* symbols on gravestones, such as the anchor or Mason’s compass
* people who died in unusual ways, including War graves
* new features such as crematoria, ash gardens, children’s areas, chapels of memory, crypts etc
* nature - trees, birds, etc. Yew trees are traditional.
Every graveyard I go to now, I spot something new. Last week, I found a graveyard with a sign up about their “grave reclaimation” program, the rules they follow to reuse old graves for new people. You can see as you walk around graves with “chosen for reclamation” signs on them; if no family member challenges them in over a year, the graves will be taken down.
There is always something new to discover.