Death and the Economy: California Cemetery in Foreclosure…

Final Resting Place, In Foreclosure
Theresa Vargas and Michael Williamson, Washington Post, (August 4, 2009)

Just when it seemed that news about the US economy and Death could not get any odder (and/or sadder), I came across the following blog post. Two writers employed by the Washington Post, Theresa Vargas and Michael Williamson, run a blog called Half a Tank: Along Recession Road and they are documenting how the recession is altering everyday life. Their posting on an Imperial Valley, California, cemetery in foreclosure is both predictable and astounding.

Cemeteries in foreclosure are not entirely new but it doesn’t happen all that frequently, either. Usually, cemeteries fall into disrepair because the owners stop the upkeep and/or the living relatives of the deceased have also died and no one comes to the cemetery.

Oddly, the last two days have seen similar cemetery stories in both the Washington Post and the New York Times. On Monday, August 3, the New York Times ran the following article: With Demise of Jewish Burial Societies, Resting Places Are in Turmoil.

I expect that more and more of these cases will pop up in the coming years. Family members die. Money comes and goes. Younger generations are no longer taken to the grave sites.

For what it is worth, I do not think that these stories are all that terrible. I like to imagine what future archaeologists will say when they uncover these abandoned burial grounds.

That, for me, is the future for forgotten cemeteries. We, the living, have no control over what stories our dead bodies will tell.

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