Dwight Watt - Watt Thoughts #149 2/20/2008

#149 - Death Customs (Watt Thoughts)

Having lived in various parts of Georgia, South Carolina and northern Virginia I have observed various customs with death. Mostly they are the same with services at funeral homes and churches, cemeteries with markers and flowers above or built in ground. Some funeral homes in some places I observed leave the front porch light on when there is a body in the home. I suspect that is left from old custom of sitting up with the dead that is very seldom practiced anymore, but then very seldom is the dead body kept at home to funeral.

Since moving to NW Georgia I have observed a couple of customs I had not observed else where, although I suspect they are practiced some elsewhere.

The first is the signs on funeral homes are marquees. They list on the marquee the people who have died and when visitation and service is. Other places this is listed only in the newspapers and in rural areas listed on the radio station at least once a day. Here you can drive by the funeral home and know when the service is and for who. There is no question when you see a crowd at the funeral home of who has died. I find it an interesting method.

The second is that many of the cemeteries have solar powered crosses at the graves. When you drive by the cemetery after dark there are all these crosses lit up out there. Being use to dark cemeteries that people avoid walking through because of the fear of spirits getting them, this is a different experience. By using solar powered crosses, they are effectively putting eternal lighted crosses out there, eternal in the same sense as the burning flame at Kennedy’s grave at Arlington, they will cease when people fail to care for the light/flame over long term. It does present the cross as a living cross.

The second must be being done in other areas as you can buy these crosses in mail-order catalogs.

It is interesting noticing changes that occur in the ways we deal with death. Who would have guessed marquees on funeral homes not many years ago? The growing popularity of cremation still astounds some but for some of us it has been a viable option a long time. May you have a full life.



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