The cities of the dead in and around New Orleans are at a unique point in history.
Environmentally, it is getting harder to preserve them. As we loose whole cities on the coast, the cemeteries are not moving with the people and are now under cover of water. A bit further in, they occasionally get washed out during a storm and the communities spend years matching caskets, tombs and remains. The cemeteries in the city are popular tourist attractions which puts wear and tear on the places of mourning.
Communally, public grieving has also changed. In the Victorian Era, mourning was very public and had a formalized code and timeline. Over the years, death customs have moved from the home and being part of life to away from home and into the hands of strangers. There are less memorial days and visiting cemeteries.
Growing up, visiting cemeteries was a family activity even if we didn’t know someone there. My Grandma and I would walk to the small cemetery down the road from their farm and do grave rubbings to try to read the weathered words. Near my home, we would have expeditions down a long dirt road collecting errant golf balls from a nearby course and finish at the cemetery to see what people had left for the deceased guitarist for Deep Purple and to walk the stations of the cross.
I visit cemeteries often and have a particular fondness for pet cemeteries. I enjoy finding people’s small touches as they remember their loved ones and appreciate the many lives the place represents.