As I wander through cemeteries, I am always struck by the variety of offerings to the dead that I encounter. Sometimes they are simple: a flower; a photo; a favorite toy; bottles of soda or alcohol; a statuette… In other cases, they can be quite elaborate. I am most intrigued by those things left behind that imply an element of ritual, and I wonder if they are meant to appease a potentially restless spirit or an angry god/God. For one who believes the spirits of the dead are wandering around in the ether or that God demands appeasement rather than having a character of love, I suppose these gifts serve both a symbolic and a functional or practical purpose. I am intrigued by how they are often indicative of a broader culture or faith while simultaneously revealing the very individualized and personal ways we employ to cope with the death of a loved one.
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