How to Have Fun in a Cemetery – By Ryan Lee

by MSO

All paths in life lead to a final resting place for all of us.

Last week I took my son to Costco, and located next to our local Costco is a small, and charming cemetery. As I opened the door to my Yukon XL, that gets thirteen miles to the gallon, so that my son and I could go eat our Costco hotdogs; my son surprised me. He pointed to the cemetery and asked, ¨When are we going to go back there?

Granted, it may only be the son of a mortuary veteran who ever utters such a phrase, but it doesn’t have to be that way! You too can discover all of the fun and amazing things to do at your local cemetery. Furthermore, cemeteries are generally a safe and convenient location to get your daily walk completed. Yes, I just pitched you the idea of a cemetery being both fun and healthy for you!

What do you know about your local cemetery? What is there, or who is there that you can go and see? Also, you may be amazed to discover the teachable moments that exist for your children or yourself within these plots of land where we lay our dead?

I have had the good fortune, and the burden of traveling frequently. Those who know me also know that I tend to have a difficult time holding still, and I often need to get outside when I am not actively engaged. Cemeteries have proven to be a wonderful source of countless hours of learning and relaxation while I have been on the road.‚ Honestly, have you been to your local park? Parks are polluted with loud and noisy people who very rarely pick up after themselves. A cemetery however has easy parking, well maintained grounds and plenty of large shade trees that invite all to pull-up and relax, if not reflect.

While on the road I have discovered America through cemeteries. Did you know that Johnny Appleseed is buried in Ft. Wayne Indiana? I did not, that is, until I was there on a trip. It was also at Johnny Appleseed’s grave that I saw my first and only wild woodchuck. While in a cemetery in Visalia, CA I discovered a palm tree growing from the middle of an olive tree. Cemeteries have a lot to offer, if you just take the time to discover it.

My son loves our local cemetery, and it holds wonderful memories for us. Back before he started to school, we would walk daily through the cemetery, and a kind office worker would bring me a bottle of water, and a fresh baked cookie for my son as we walked past their office.

While my son may have originally grown fond of the cemetery because of a cookie and our father and son time; he has learned to love the uniqueness of the place. He likes to visit the eternal flame at the cemetery’s veteran’s memorial. He likes to view the distinct and sometimes unusual upright monuments. Being in Los Angeles, he also has the opportunity to visit the graves of celebrities and icons from all sorts of industries.

However, my son also knows where the grave of one brave US Marine is located. Every Veterans Day and every Memorial Day, my son and I make a special trip to the cemetery to visit this man’s grave. This local Marine died in combat, and we visit him, to honor him and recognize his sacrifice. Eventually my son will notice that the date of death of this Marine is the date of birth of my son. Furthermore, my son will eventually learn that our moment of silence at this grave is actually a moment that one father offers a soft prayer for another.

Ryan Lee.

Cemeteries can offer you great and wonderful teaching tools. Parents can use one family’s loss to educate their family on a wide range of topics. All cemeteries bear special witness to the consequences of drinking and driving, drug addiction, domestic violence, the arrogance of youth, the finality of death and the hope for our future.

Cemeteries offer a tranquil setting, a soft back-drop and often a picturesque environment. In this age of technology its become easier to learn what’s actually going on at your local cemetery. Sites like make discovering stories of those who have died easier to discover, and so much more. I encourage you to visit your local cemetery, or those along your travels. Who knows, you may learn to love cemeteries as much as my five year old son and I.

Ryan Lee is the best-selling author of A Day in the Life of Death, editorial contributor to Funeral Business Advisor Magazine and owner of Ryan M. Lee Mortuary Consultants


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