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Things People Are Buried With

Why and with What People are Buried with at the Funeral

For as long as mankind has been on Earth dealing with matters of life and death, a tradition has held strong: burying the deceased with an article of some sort that captures the person's legacy, spirituality or just his or her history. Some of the most interesting instances of this tradition have been uncovered only relatively recently by archeologists as they unearthed graves of prehistoric times looking for clues to the cultures that were a big part of establishing the very traditions that we have seen survive to modern times. Among these finds was a petrified toy dog found in the grave of what appears to be a girl buried in Asia some 25,000 years ago. (While all who have a heart certainly hope that the girl's body was buried only after her death, scientists report that they are uncertain whether that was the case or not. In many prehistoric cultures, there is strong evidence that the children of parents who had passed away were sometimes buried alive at the same time – if not in the same location – as their parents.) But that's just the start of things that people have been buried with over the centuries. From that meager (but precious) toy to the riches that were entombed in the pyramids of the great Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt to the Bibles that are scattered underneath the ground of cemeteries all across the modern world, a world of interesting treasures is waiting today for discovery by future generations who will, no doubt, be eager to understand, and learn from, the lives of those who tread the Earth before them.

Types of Things People Are Buried With

The list of things that people are buried with today remains as varied and as unpredictable as it was in the days of the very earliest graves. But, in general, those who have studied this phenomena of things that people are buried with, can classify the items into several broad categories. Though experts often disagree on the names of these categories, we have assembled a representative, somewhat informal, list as best we can based on a broad sampling of academic reports that have been reviewed. The things fall into these overall categories: spiritual, historical, legacy promoting, and cultural. Spiritual things that have been buried with people include copies of sacred texts and perhaps religious symbols such as statues of religious figures. In the past 2000 years or so, to be buried with a cross, a Bible or a combination of the two is about as popular a tradition as can be found among modern followers of Christianity. But Christianity by no means has a lock on burying people with things that represent their spiritual beliefs. Most of the other modern religions of the world all have some sort of tradition that has been passed down through the ages.

Historical things that people are buried with include such things as birth certificates (or even death certificates), wedding announcements, government records and other such items that people may wish to send on for inspection by future generations so that historians can have an easy-as-possible-time of setting the record straight. In ancient times, for example, lists of royal heirs were often buried directly with kings, queens, princes and emperors in hopes of helping to explain royal lineage for people of the future, many of whom may even be attempting to settle disputes as to who, in fact, is entitled, by blood, to inherit a particular post or throne.

Legacy promoting items that are buried with people include things that would leave a clue about the personality of the deceased. Books or other works of art that were important to the deceased might be buried with a person, as might precious jewels that had some special meaning to the deceased (a wedding ring, for example). Pieces of a person's special collection – such as model cars and trains or even coins and stamps – are often left in the graves of modern men and women and, as we saw above, toys and other artifacts that might ave been important to a person were being buried in graves with men and woman for, potentially, as long as 25,000 years.

And, finally, cultural mementos have long been a part of burial tradition. The aforementioned articles tucked away ages ago in the tombs of the pharaohs have been thoroughly studied for centuries, and, in more modern times, things like wedding rings, trophies and even sets of laminated newspaper clippings have been known to pop up in grave yards across the United States. In many ways, grave sites these days are also coming to the point in which they almost double as time capsules. Archeologists and historians 500 years from now will have a great deal of valuable material to explore and study as they uncover the modern burial sites that are being left behind by men and women of the 17th - 21st centuries.

How To Decide What to Be Buried With

Considering that what a person is buried with can possibly be his or her very hope of communicating with the future, we see that this is about as important a decision as can be made by a person in his or her lifetime. It is unfortunate, then, that this decision is often not made by the person himself. Or that, in far too many cases, the person's wishes are not communicated properly (or just ignored) meaning that they are, in fact, never carried out or carried out with some other outcome than what was intended by the deceased. Many will, of course, argue that, given that the deceased has no way of knowing that the wishes are not carried out properly, the factor of tragedy may not be as dramatic as it might if there was some sort of dispute about the wishes well before the death, and the deceased person actually had an opportunity to realize that his desires for what to be buried with would not be met. Nevertheless, the historical implications of such a scenario are as real as they disappointing, and we urge all who would have a desire to be buried with some particular special object – whether it be spiritual, cultural, legacy building or historical – to simply make sure their wishes are communicated well to several trusted family members and friends who have the ability and power to see that they are carried out. That is the most important factor in deciding what to be buried with. The title of this section may lead some to believe that we will offer some tips here on how to make such a decision but, of course, we cannot do that. Such a decision is about as private and as personal as they come. And, in many cases people have been known to require in their last will and testament and other documents that the addition of the special objects be made privately – after all mourners have left a funeral and/or graveside service and only just before the body is to be lowered into the ground. So, we will leave our advice to this (and we are not the only counselors to do that, most other experts in the death care field are very careful to never make value or judgment calls about whether a person should be buried with things or not): simply make sure that any item you wish to have buried with you can be considered legally yours and then be sure that several others have agreed to see to it that your wishes can and will be carried out. It is important to ask several people to agree so that back-ups can be put in place in the event that a chief organizer is unable to unwilling to help after death.

Strange Things People Are Buried With

It is quite often the case that strange things are buried with people who are dead. Stories of these things can be found quite readily on the internet these days, and they are all quite interesting indeed. One of the most intriguing, and even frightening, thing that modern day people have been known to be buried with is some sort of escape device or system to be used in the event that a person is buried alive. Some of the death care industry's more popular caskets come standard with all sorts of air supplies, electronic communication devices and many other products that a person who has been trapped inside while alive will likely be able to use to call for a rescue upon his or her waking up in such a horrific situation. While it is thought that most of these gadgets and systems are the work of companies who are simply trying to earn themselves some inexpensive publicity, the unusual tradition does have its roots in a popular trend of the middle ages up to about the late 1800's (when embalming was not as common and, therefore, finding oneself buried alive after some medical misunderstanding was much more of a realistic idea than it is now). In those days, casket makers and cemeteries often worked together to install (for an additional premium price, of course) special bell and pulley mechanism, by which a person who was trapped in a casket after it had been buried could pull a rope inside the casket and ring a bell that would be installed on the surface in order to alert passers-by that a rescue was being called for. Interestingly, there are several documented cases across the United States and the rest of the developed world in which those bells did ring and a person who “woke up” after having been thought dead was found to be quite well. (In today's world such cases happen occasionally still as well. But they are almost always relegated to a medical examiner's or a hospital's morgue or to a funeral home's pre-embalming room. It is perhaps a gruesome thought to realize that, after an embalming service – and especially after a cremation procedure – there is absolutely no chance of a body restoring itself to life in today's modern world, so any restoration must happen before then and, amazingly, it occasionally does. The bell and rope that had been previously buried with the deceased has since been replaced by bands of bells that are placed around deceased's feet or wrists as they are waiting to be prepared for a casket. Security guards charged with keeping watch with the bodies are then tasked to with keeping an ever-vigilant ear open for the clinging of those bells. Any tingle is a sure sign that someone has come back to life. And most years the news can be found of one or two surprised guards happily reporting that the bells have rung on their watch.

Is It Okay to Be Buried With Nothing?

All of this discussion may lead to an important question in many people's minds that we will address here at the end of our discussion: is being buried with something ever a requirement? Is it okay to be buried with nothing? The answer, of course, is that it is perfectly acceptable – in all modern religions and under the laws of every modern, industrialized country – to be buried with nothing at all. Being buried with an item of some sort is strictly a matter of choice for the deceased and his or her immediate family. In today's modern world, many people have a world view by which death is a complete separation of the deceased from the humanistic world of the flesh and, under that view, there is no need to carry anything of value into the next world. Hence, in these cases, the decision to be buried with nothing is entirely logical and even in keeping with spiritual, cultural, and historical norms. In these cases, future archeologists may be lucky to even find any evidence that the deceased was even clothed when he or she was buried.

 
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