Tapophilia is a passion for and enjoyment of Cemeteries, graves and funerals. The singular term is taphophile. Some would also describe this as a morbid interest, but I’ve never felt that way about cemeteries. It’s the funeral part that has me not feeling 100% comfortable with the word. I’ve lost too many people I loved to ever enjoy funerals, so though I don’t mind the term taphophile I prefer the term cemeterlogist. I’ve no idea who first coined the phrase but it seems to fit my interest in cemeteries. Cemeterology is the study of cemeteries, graveyards and funeral customs.
From an early age I remember visiting graveyards with relatives to lay flowers for people I never knew, but it was never treated as a morbid experience. The chatter and laughter of tales retold about those we visited are what remain with me, memories retained the love even though the person themselves was gone. In my twenties I started to visit cemeteries and graveyards again, this time for a photographic art project and discovered the beauty that can be found in cemeteries along with history and architecture. Roll on another decade and the death of my mum started to re-awaken my interest in my own family history and once again cemeteries became somewhere on my list of places to visit. This time the interest was personal, but the inbuilt inquisitiveness I was born with meant I soon had a curiosity about the lives of some of the other people whose stones and markers of a life lived I happened upon.
Cemeteries are for me, sanctuaries of past lives and memories; they hold the dreams and aspirations of people long gone. All would have touched others life’s in their time on this earth, how ever short or long. Some may have been famous but all would have been someone’s child or maybe a mother or father. All would have lived through their own unique time frames. Their stories shouldn’t be ignored. Cemeteries themselves are unique places, history, art, architecture are all to be found within the boundaries. As mankind has push their need for ever more space in the name of progress, nature is also finding a quiet refuge in the safe confines of cemeteries.
I don’t find enjoyment in death, but I do find it in history, art and in rediscovering lost stories, all of which I can find in the quiet beauty of cemeteries. I also find general interest and yes, amusement in how our attitudes to death have changed over the year, that’s why I’m a cemeterologist. I love to learn and the dead and their places of rest still have so much to teach us.