Atheists - Opinions of Graveyards

This is not a morbid thread, yesterday I passed a cemetery on the way home from work, as I do everyday, and I thought I wonder what other atheists think about burial and cemeteries in general.

After a few minutes thought I came up with my best feeling on the matter. Although I don’t believe in any form of life after death I think that knowing where your relatives remains are can be comforting for the bereaved. They can also be places for quiet contemplation such as remembering the good times that were shared with that person.

Although I’m not religious I do like religious architecture, churches, cathedrals etc and as a result of this probably enjoy the slightly Gothic character of a lot of old cemeteries in the UK, although I must stress that i don’t generally go into graveyards except for funerals.

Not sure what I want done with my own mortal remains, don’t really care that much as I won’t be around to worry about it, although I suspect that soem form of ceremony will take place for my friends and family.

Anyone else got an opinion on this or is it just me?

I’m torn - as an strict materialist, I intend to be cremated and have my ashes scattered in a natural location. Don’t see the need for a burial or memorial at all, philosophically.

Aesthetically, as a sometime Goth, however…

I would say, as very unreligious person, that a person’grave can still be a very important place for those who are left behind. Me and my family still visit my grandfather’s ‘grave’* every year, which is quite often, since this is in an other country and it effectively means we go whenever we are there. After visiting his grave we always end up talking about how he used to be and what things he had done etc.

For me and my younger sister this really keeps the memory of him alive, since we were quite young (10 and 6) when he died.

So to come back to your OP, I don’t think it has anything to do with religion (, while the funerals often do off course)

*In this case it is not his actual body that is buried, but an urn with his ashes.

I want my body torn and eaten by feral pigs, but that’s just me. (And several Dopers, I’m fairly sure, while I’m still alive. Is it okay to ascribe the wishing of death if the subject is oneself? Hope so.) I think, as a strict materialist, that cemetaries are a silly waste of real estate. Since I live near thousands of acres of cemetaries in a very urban part of the country (the part that separates Brookyn from Queens–I often drive on the road that separates the two counties in some spots), I do find them peaceful places to stroll. My grandparents are buried within walking distance from me, and I often walk there, and wonder about my family, where they came from, how much and how little I knew about them while they were alive.

But I like to think that someday, when we get a little bit more rational, we’ll accept that these burial grounds are wasteful, and erect some structure over them, with the burial places virtually preserved, but in an area even more suitable for walking and comtemplation. Those goddamned slabs of marble and granite are pretty ugly and grim.

There was a huge cemetery near the home I grew up in, and I walked in it a lot. It was a beautiful place with a lake and flowering trees and all kinds of cool monuments and mausoleums. I liked reading the names and notations on the headstones and thinking about the people that were buried there, what they were like, where they lived, that sort of thing. It was just like a park with lots of places to sit.

I don’t much care where other people put their carcasses, and I intend to have mine cremated and tossed into Devil’s Kettle (since I’m not allowed to be placed on a burning funeral boat and pushed out onto the lake), but I agree with pseudotriton ruber ruber that they’re a senseless waste of perfectly good land. Fortunately, by the time you young whippersnappers have to worry about that, I’ll be dead and gone.

I’m personally indifferent to what happens to my body after death, and have no sentimentality about other people’s corpses. I don’t bother going to anyone’s grave - I can think about them just fine anywhere, and they are gone just as much there as here.

Graveyards are for the living and not for the dead.

I also don’t go to anybody’s graves and find our fixation with dead bodies rather icky. I don’t like viewings. I can’t imagine how being lowered into the ground to rot away for years and years is acceptable to anyone. Cremation all the way, baby.

But all that being said, I really don’t care how other people dispose of their bodies. I don’t have kids, and I’ll be dead in a matter of years like everyone else, so it’s not my progeny’s space people are taking up - it’s their own.

As I get older, I find my self thinking the same way, more and more. I used to think it’d be nice to be worm food, and to give something back. But then, as a profligate Western consumer, I’m not really going to make much of a dent anyway, compared to what I’d taken.

So, that’s not worth my loved ones knowing I’m right there in a known location, turning green and infested with worms. I’m done, my life is over, let me be vaporised. And having seen a crematorium at work behind the scenes, it’s pretty impressive (yes, there is some little stuff left over, but it’s nothing like what burial does).
But if you must have boneyards, then have them in one spot (which you can avoid if you like). I was weirded out by Vietnamese friends who wouldn’t go near one, but when I went to Vietnam, I found people were buried in their backyards. The entire frikkin’ country was full of tombstones.

My initial gut reaction is generally “What a waste of space” - or more accurately - “What a waste of a potential golf course!” :wink: But as one who tends to favor open space, I appreciate the fact that at least they are not paved over.

My parents died 10 years ago. I visited their graves once - not at all sure I could find it today.

A thought I read in a “treehugger” book some years back suggested being buried in a biodegradable box beneath an acorn (or seed of your choice). As you rotted, you would nourish the sapling, attaining one version of near-immortality.

I’m against burial from a “waste of real estate” perspective. I want cremation for myself. I get that the gravesite can be a comfort to some (my in-laws are cemetery junkies and spend lots of time there, cleaning up the gravesites, putting pine blankets down “to keep them warm” :rolleyes:, and such). My mom’s ashes were buried in a grave that her parents bought for my parents when they got married. I haven’t been there since we put the urn in the dirt. I prefer to reminisce about her at my dad’s, preferably when I’m in the kitchen trying to cook a holiday meal and looking at all the utensils and dishes she used. She’s been gone ten years, but I still yell, “Dad, where does mom keep the large measuring cup?” and he’ll yell back, “I think in that cabinet above the stove!”

:frowning: I still miss her a lot.

When I think about someone who is buried at a cemetary, I can’t help but think that a person who was alive at one time, sittin’ around, hangin’ out with, shootin’( a g shortage here apparently) the bull.

I can’t help but think that they are now rotting in the ground.

Not sure if I’d feel any differently if I believed in the supernatural.
They’d still be rotting in the ground.

I guess I’d rather everyone I know was cremated.

Graveyards are safe to sleep in.

What better place to take a nap in that a place in which everybody is resting?

In all seriousness, graveyards are a bit scary and I´d rather be cremated.

I think graveyards, along with golf courses, are criminally wasteful uses of space.

Every body (get it?) should be cremated or used by science somehow, after whatever useful organs have been harvested.

I like old-fashioned graveyards, like the huge Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh, where my girlfriend and I spent a few hours indulging her geneology habit. Some of the mausoleums were as big as my first apartment, and there were deer wandering around.

I like looking at the headstones or plaques, thinking about the people involved and their stories. (Like a family where the couple had three children who all died in infancy within a three-year period – twice, almost twenty years apart.)

I’ve always wanted to someday be skeletonized – my bones polished by maggots and my skeleton put in a medical school. (I’ve heard they have a shortage of skeletons.) Students would learn from me, and when they had a party they’d put a funny hat on my skull. But, I’m missing ten teeth, so on aesthetic grounds they might not take me. Besides, I hope to live a long time and they probably want healthy young skeletons.

Another vote for “waste of space”. I look at a graveyard and think, “That would make a great playing field if all those damn rocks weren’t in the way.”

Not rocks… Hurdles. You’re just looking at it wrong.

I think if I end up adding very little or nothing to the world by having lived in it, at the very least some worms will get a good meal when I die.

If people find value in them, then there’s a point to having them. Pretty much everything is a waste of space in the end, since we don’t all live in cupboard-size apartments. Worth is where you find it.

I don’t care what they do with me when I’m dead, throw me in the sea for all I’ll care but I do like cemeteries. I like the little bits of peoples’ stories they reveal, I like the different designs of headstone and how they represent different cultures and I like how they tend to be quiet in an otherwise bustling world. I don’t think they’re wastes of space and most of them end up being used for something else after a time anyway.

I’d rather see a cemetery than another strip mall.