Cemetery talk with Andrea at Highgate Cemetery

IMG_1209Mit Andrea entdeckte ich letzte Woche London. Wir machten uns auf den Weg zum Highgate Cemetery, wo Karl Marx beerdigt ist. Andrea arbeitet selbständig als Digital Marketing Consultant und Graphic Designer. Hier findet Ihr mehr über sie: dotsandletters.com und art-salat.com.

1. Imagine: You will die in this city. Where will you be buried …?
I am an air sign, in a way this is strange being an Aquarius also. I think I would not like to choose an earthy place to be buried. I am a visitor, a traveller in this world, not embedded in a local culture nor feeling very attached to a physical place.
This in mind I’d like my ashes to be dashed out over the sea. It could be any sea really, the Channel or somewhere far. My boys would have to choose if they just take a ferry to Europe or go on a longer Cruise and let me fly freely.

2. Do you know a cemetery in your city where you live right now? Tell me about it. Let’s go there.
I liked our walk across Highgate Cemetery East, such a peaceful place, full of ancient stories fading over time just as the lettering on the tomb stones fades and some even seemed to sink into the Earth. It felt a little like a place for Zombies with some of the resting places looking like they had been opened from inside or outside? You never know. I thought about what would my resting place look like if I were to choose a permanent address to be my ‚last resort‘. Definitely not grey, it would need to be as colourful as possible. In my imagination it would be in a field of lily’s of the valley.

3. Do you know something of the „burial culture“ of your city/country where you live?
I believe it is like in other western cultures that people tend to be lain to rest together with their loved ones where ever possible, so you see a lot of family graves, but also individual ones. I don’t know about cultural preferences for the burial, also with London being one of the culturally most mixed places in the world, it must be as diverse as the cultures that have settled here. There seems to be a similar habit of visiting the resting place of a loved one and looking after it, refreshing the flowers etc., especially on specific anniversaries.

We saw a Happy Birthday balloon and flowers on one of the resting places of a child. So sad and sweet at the same time. Likewise, we saw graves that had not been visited for a long time. As generations do not die as per defined schedule sometimes there is just no one left at some point. It is one of the reasons I don’t want to be buried the traditional way and rather be let out to fly or swim wherever I like.

4. What about your thoughts and feelings re life and death?
I love life and I fear death, especially sudden, unplanned death. I have been confronted with it at young age and it awakes memories of feeling lost and helpless. But I also want to think of death as another form of life, a journey to a different space or orbit, still somehow connected to the present life. I recently read a book about a young mother who died and was reborn as an Ant. Because in her life she was not the most amicable, kind person, God sent her out with the Ants, symbolic for the most hard working species to work hard and collect good Karma. Her only wish was to be near her daughter to make sure she is fine and over time she realised the underlaying need was to make her daughter feel the love she was not able to give her during her lifetime.

Every time she had successfully passed a stage in God’s opinion, she was reborn as a species superior to the one before, from Ant to a Guinea Pig to…. to a Cleaning Lady… She could not resist to keep living some of the bad habits, so she messed up a few times and was put back to inferior stages of life, but she managed through it developing a sense of respect, loyalty and empathy towards others. It was a silly story in a way, but it also reminded me to be tolerant and kind; and to show my family how much I love them every day before my time is up.

5. What do you think and believe about your own death and dying?
I believe we are here for a reason and we leave for a reason. As Paolo Coelho says in El Zahir „Quando algien se va, es porque algien esta a punto de llegar.“ meaning „If someone leaves, it’s because someone else is arriving.“ This has an interesting relationship. Is it indeed this way or is someone arriving, because someone else is leaving? Just like in life, there will be some things to explore. Every one of us will pass on memories and leave a story behind. We will also have to take this story along on our journey and I do have a sense that there is another form of life awaiting the deceased.

I cannot yet see what way of life it will be for me, but I believe I will see it when it is time to see it. And that is all I need to know now. If I happen to be having a slow death, I wish it to be ended when there is no hope of recovery to avoid the suffering both of myself and my family. I wish that on that special day the sun is shining and that my loved ones will not feel desperate or sad. I want them to move on while treasuring the good, warming memories. It’s probably a selfish thought.

6. Any symbol that you like …
Not particularly, but I’d love to see trees, flowers and birds.

7. … or a song / text / book ….
My musical taste might change, but right now I love to listen to Big Jet Plane from Julia & Angus Stone. (Not so much for the lyrics, but I love the guitar play.)
If I could take along some books to re-read them while transmissioning, it would be these two, Brida and The Aleph, from Paolo Coelho.


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