20 July 2007

Cemetery Etiquette

I admit. I like to research dead people.

Gone but not forgotten, assuming room temperature, bought the farm, fettucine al deado, taking a dirt nap, cooking for the Kennedy's....and I don't mean Princess Bride-ish "mostly dead".

I'll spare you the details but I've been researching my family tree for years now (okay, okay, 2300 documented personally and counting).

I'm now pursuing my license as a Board Certified Genealogist. I've passed a preliminary test with flying colors. I'll be the first to say, I've honed some incredible researching skills because of my hobby.

I wanted to post this, because I've recently run across some incredibly disrespectful people at the cemetery. It dawned on me that many probably don't know proper etiquette. From this day forward, if you do visit a cemetery, I will have single-handedly prepared you with a few tips and courtesies you might find useful. This might also spare you the ill-fated pleasure of being brutally bludgeoned with a garden spade and then buried alive by cemetery visitors, such as myself.

Please respect a burial site.
A marker or headstone may not be your family but it is someone's family. Walk in the isles whenever possible. Don't sit, throw or leave your garbage on someone's marker. Bottles and ciggies also fall in this category. If you have a pet with you please, for the love of dog biscuits, obey the scoop law.

Be courteous to those who are already there.
Most people who visit cemeteries don't care to be disturbed. Hosting a rave or tagging party is not recommended. Do be aware of your surroundings though, cemeteries can be pretty secluded.

If you clean off a marker, I do suggest bringing a few tools and items:
Hand broom
Garbage sack
Tap water
Paper and chalk/crayon for rubbings
Cell phone for safety!

You would be surprised how dirty markers can get. I like the small flat axe on one side and a tri-forked prong on the other side the best. I purchased mine for under 10 bucks at my local hardware store. Make sure to throw away all garbage including debris (grass or dirt) removed from any markers you clean.

Get the kids and family involved.
I'm really big on this because even though this is a sad thing when people die, it's also the natural end of life. I think this also brings comfort when there is a death in the family. It's important to know where your roots are and where you have come from.

Happy Trees!!

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"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe