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Edinburgh St Cuthberts Churchyard Grave of James Bailie Detail


Yes, I’m A Taphophile—Joyce Markovics Hearts Cemeteries

Yes, I’m A Taphophile — Joyce Markovics Hearts Cemeteries

There are those of us who love cemeteries, and others who are unnerved by them. What exactly creeps them out, I wonder? The crumbling human remains beneath their feet? The endless rows of cold gray stones? The disquieting silence? The possibility of lingering I’ve got a bone to pick” spirits? The old guy with the sickle and heavily starched black robe? Or maybe it’s the concept of death itself — an idea too weighty and burdensome for many of us to bear. For me, entering a cemetery is positively life-affirming — almost joyous. It’s like being in a museum in nature where life and death exquisitely twist and converge in a tangle of time. Looking around, I’m enthralled by gravestones decorated with symbols from bygone eras. History is everywhere. There are passion flowers, weeping willows, delicately articulated hands pointing upward, upside-down torches, empty hourglasses, urns draped with fabric, sleeping angels and fluttering doves. With luck, I’ll discover stones engraved with poignant poetry. Others are marked more simply with names and dates. No matter the type or level of adornment, each stone represents a life. And for every one of us, living is a fascinating and brave act. Life is hard work. It deserves to be memorialized. For me, life, not death, is what’s present in cemeteries. Mark Twain said, The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” Right on, Mark. To live fully is great advice. Remember that the next time you’re in a cemetery. 

Joyce is a grave cleaner and board member of the Ossining Historic Cemeteries Conservancy. To learn more about the group and their wonderful work, please visit: https://www.ossininghistoricce…