Since the current contagion has slightly increased my wife’s and my chance of imminent death (we’re both around 70), I enjoyed this fine article on the history of American burial practices.
The short version: Memorials have moved from more communal (burial in churchyards), featuring reminders of our common inescapable end (winged skulls and similar grave decorations) – to graves celebrating the life of the departed, usually in a pleasant park-like setting. If you go to a cemetery today, you’re more likely to see a recent headstone engraved with the logo of the departed’s favorite football team than with anything like this popular 18th-century verse:
Behold and See as you Pass By
As you are Now so Once was I
As I am Now you Soon will Be
Prepare for Death and Follow Me.
Last year we purchased a burial plot and headstone at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in Pennsylvania. Here’s a photo of self looking over the finished product. When contemplating one’s Last End, it’s good to bring coffee.