People are buried everywhere, once you start to notice. Every tourist destination has a cemetery, from New York City to Hong Kong to Isle of Iona. Some tourist destinations are tombs: the Great Pyramids of Egypt or the Taj Mahal or the Royal Mounds in Gamla Uppsala in Sweden, for instance. There are permanent residents in museums, houses of worship, ghost towns, battlegrounds…even in national parks. You may have already visited someone’s grave without giving it a second thought, if you’ve been to Pompeii or Westminster Abbey or the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
Why would anyone go out of the way to visit a graveyard intentionally? In addition to the fascinating stories they contain, cemeteries can be open-air sculpture parks full of one of a kind artwork. They provide habitats for birds and wildlife, as well as arboretums and gardens of surprising beauty. Cemeteries appeal to art lovers, amateur sociologists, birdwatchers, master gardeners, historians, hikers, genealogists, picnickers, and anyone who just wants to stop and smell the roses. Our relationships with the places we visit can be deepened and enriched by learning the stories of those who came—and stayed—before us.
There’s nothing like visiting a cemetery to give you a little perspective, to remind you that every day aboveground is a good day.