Tuesday, August 20, 2013


What's the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery?  Is there anything a person is not supposed to do while in a cemetery?  Are there any cemeteries you feel drawn to or shy away from?

As many people know, a cemetery is a place where the deceased are buried.  But how do they differ from graveyards?  A graveyard is also a place where the dead are put to rest.  However, graveyards are burial grounds that are located next to, and part of a church. 

A few reasons graveyards made way for cemeteries are:
  • a sharp rise in the population; possibility of people residing farther from the center of town
  • outbreaks of infectious diseases made people want to bury the victims far from cities and towns, where most graveyards were located  
  • lack of space in graveyards
  • the church refused to bury the bodies of people that did not attend their church

There are a few superstitions or old wives' tales centered around cemeteries.
  • A person traveling past a cemetery needs to hold their breath so they don't breathe in the spirits of the dead.
  • A person should not step on the graves in a cemetery, or they could inhale the spirit of the body that is buried beneath.
  • Tombstones put weight on the bodies so they don't rise from the grave (as in ghosts, vampires, ghouls, etc.).
I'm not sure how much truth resides in any of the above tales.  For me, I've always felt a great sadness when passing by or walking through a cemetery, I don't even need to know anyone buried in them.  I tend to feel awkward stepping over individual graves, it gives me the creeps.  As for tombstones weighing bodies down, it sounds like something that could have its basis in folklore of the past.  How about you?  What feelings do you get when you enter a cemetery?


  1. I didn't know there was a difference between graveyards and cemeteries, I'm glad you mentioned it because Marcus and I are working on a Halloween story and that's an important point, then.

    1. I thought the words were synonyms too, Mardra. My research told me different! Glad I could help. :-)

  2. I thought the words were synonyms, too! Thanks for enlightening me. Makes perfect sense now that you told me.

    I was just in a cemetery for a funeral yesterday, and oddly enough I was struck by the beauty of it. I kept noting things of beauty, both big and small: wildflowers growing in the adjacent fields, huge trees standing watch over the graves, lovely sentiments on headstones, a bright-colored pinwheel blowing cheerfully in the breeze. I was sad that my friend whose funeral I attended would no longer be able to see this beauty in the world, but I was also comforted knowing that she's now at peace. For yesterday, anyway, the cemetery was a place for the living to grieve, pay tribute, and remember. I'm not sure I'd feel the same way, though, if I went back after dark!

    1. Yes, Chris. I too think of cemeteries as places for the living to be able to grieve. But if that's what it takes for us mere mortals to remember people and times past, then maybe it's a good thing, right?

  3. Personally, as disturbing as it may be, I love cemeteries. I don't feel sad, creeped out. I actually feel happy and at peace. I see the names on the markers and I don't see dead people. I see people who lived. They lived in times and places different from my own. They lived in stories I will never hear. I see history, people who have left their footprints on this earth that I perhaps may have stepped in unknowingly at some point.
    I sit in cemeteries and graveyards to think, wishing I could see the faces that go with the names, talk to them and hear their stories from start to finish.
    Call me crazy, but cemeteries and graveyards are among my happy places. Maybe I write suspense, horror and thriller for a reason?