French cemeteries, at least those in the countryside of France where we are, are surprisingly colorful places. Each is surrounded by a wall about 4 feet high. Inside are a wide assortment of structures housing the remains of those buried there. What makes them so colorful are not the structures, although many of them are quite grand, but what adorns them. They are not only surrounded by flowers, many plastic, but placed on top of the gravesite structures are a variety of personal affects, apparently of the person buried there. Items such as medals and trophies won; framed photos of family members; and photos of memorable events in the life of the deceased.
I find myself wondering about the intention behind these displays. Are they meant, in the religious minds of the survivors, to remind the spirit of the deceased of the good things that took place during their lives? Yet, since the photos are invariably facing towards the foot of the grave site, they would seem, more likely, to be aimed at reminding the friends and relatives of the deceased, when visiting the grave sites, of important aspects of the dead person’s life. To provide a way for the living to be joined with the dead.