Taphophilia: a love for funerals, graves, and cemeteries. Does this make me weird? No! It makes me want to take my cameras and go out to a cemetery, take pictures, and share the works of art that are hidden in places that are considered morbid or wrong.
I get this itch. It’s hard to explain. I want to go to a cold place where people’s families are gone and loved ones are forgotten. I pack up my cameras, bring some extra film, and go to a cemetery. The tears that were shed in these gardens of stone don’t bother me. I’m going to take pictures and visit the people that I don’t even know.
I started going to cemeteries recently. I’m working on a family tree and I want to find out where my family is buried. I’m finding some interesting things while looking for family. I had fun that day. I was hooked. Then, I started going to cemeteries that I pass everyday and I end up finding fascinating things.
For example, at St John’s UCC Mickley’s in Whitehall, Pennsylvania, USA, there is the Mickley Family. They were originally buried in Egypt Cemetery, Egypt, Pennsylvania, USA but they were re-interred in Whitehall. This big tombstone that looked like a stair case caught my eye. I took a picture and went to the local library and did some research. Turns out that a Mr John Jacob Mickley is buried there. He was a cart, buried in manure, with the bells that went from Philadelphia to Allentown, Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War. He is a Revolutionary War hero, this I knew from the government issued stone, but I didn’t realize what he did. Try and find that one in the history text books.
I also started to become fascinated with the art work. The statues that are carved by hand and the flat tombstones that were carved by hand in the 1700’s all grab my attention. It makes me imagine of how funerals used to be and how they are now.
You can also find a mausoleum. Mausoleums are not only fun, but they are shelters from the ordinary. Sure, tombstones are great and you can find awesome things on them but a mausoleum is just something else. You go inside the right one and the awe inspiring stained glass can take your breath away. However, some of these can be poorly lit so taking a picture in here can be difficult.
With or without proper lighting, with or without tombstones, cemeteries can provoke many emotions from sadness to fear to a feeling of euphoria. Yes, euphoria and not because you are happy anyone is dead. The sadness in cemeteries just doesn’t exist for me. Why? Because I find something else in cemeteries. They attract me like a fly attracted to a light bulb. So, when you walk or drive by a cemetery, don’t get creeped out! Join the many people who find peace in these spectacular places. If you don’t, then the history, the art, and the people will be forgotten forever.