Spirit Parks: Symposium to Reimagine Cemetery 2020

— Spirits Inhabit the Natural Landscape — “#352 Kashimagawa” by Tokihiro Sato

Here’s Chicago architect Mark A. Miller’s compelling vision towards reinventing cemeteries to better match contemporary sensibilities:

In the United States, the centuries old traditional model of cemetery is failing to resonate with current generations and changing ideals about death, grief and memorialization. People are looking beyond the rituals of traditional religions and the constructs of graveyards and mausoleums to incorporate new experiences and settings of spirituality, sustainability, ceremony and legacy into life’s ending.

If “cemetery” is a designated place where the living come to connect with those who have passed, and newer generations are not wanting to visit cemeteries, then we need to ask, why is this so? How can we re-imagine cemetery to revive its active functions to embody grieving, healing and honoring processes for those who have experienced a death in their family or community? How can we envision and implement new conceptions to engage the living in constructive relationships with the dead and support contemporary perspectives on mortality?

In November of 2020 Miller convened an online symposium to discuss these ideas, including presentations such as Creative Visions for Memorializations, Botanic Garden Cemeteries: A Case Study and Improvising Through Grief and Memory.

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