My friend Susannah, urban preservationist extraordinaire, sent me this pamphlet from 1917 on Community Mausoleums in Chicago. The pamphlet is filled with high falutin’ rhetoric like, “Above all things we ask for our Dead the grace of Good Taste.” According to the pamphlet, community mausoleums will last as long as the monuments of Rome. And yet, despite all that, Susannah found it on a list of Ten Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.
Here are some of the pictures of the community mausoleums in the pamphlet:
And some of the same mausoleums today:
This reminds us, again, that just as the human body does not last forever, neither do the things designed to memorialize it. Even extreme outliers like the pyramids of Egypt, which have stood through time, will eventually crumble. This is not to say that we should not preserve and respect these mausoleums, as they are not only places where the dead reside but important historical buildings.
However, one of the reasons I’ve come to be such a natural burial enthusiast is that with natural burial you are going into death knowing there is no forever. By choosing to send your entire body straight back into the elements, there is no delusion of eternal safety and preservation of your remains.