If you have recently driven past my funeral home at Margaret Wallace and Idlewild, you may have noticed a new addition to our front yard. We now have sitting benches and blue sand filled urns out by our headstone display. On a recent service, someone commented to me on the irony of a funeral home putting up a “smoking area”. It would have been a great time to hand out one of my original business cards given to me as a gift for my graduation 20 years ago that said “Thank you for smoking, your local Undertaker.”
Truth be told, and to not give the smokers amongst us such a hard time, there is a much simpler and basic reason for the benches. They are an area of quiet, of calm, of reflection and of rest.
There is no coincidence that these benches are by the headstones on display. In days long since past, cemeteries used to be in the country. Trolley lines would bring families out to them every weekend. Not just the adults, but all generations. Bringing their picnic baskets, they would enjoy a day at the park, albeit a park with the dead buried there. Death at a younger age was more common then and death was a part of the circle of life for everyone. It was a reminder that each day is a gift and that everything in life needs to be put into perspective.
Why did I put in the benches? In the hope that for some, the quiet reflective setting amongst the headstones reminds us of those days. Of the days when a moment of calm could help reset our perspective, of the days that allowed us to remember what it is like to live, laugh and love.
And yes, I also put them out there for the smokers.