Over the last few months, I have been visiting cemeteries for genealogy research. I have found that the on-line resources are good, but unless you have a photograph of an actual headstone, things still could be left up to interpretation. My searches have led me thru various cemeteries in Maine and Massachusetts, from small family plots to large city owned cemeteries.
Some cemeteries are actually quite beautiful and others seem distressingly lonely. For the most part, I find cemeteries quite sad. But as I have searched for past ancestors, I made note of the quotes of scripture, hymns and poetry sometimes carved into the headstones. The headstones that are 100+ years old seem to be much more verbose than those of the modern era. I also noticed that it seemed the headstones of the more affluent families had lengthy quotes. There is little doubt this had to do with the cost.
I made it a mission of mine to see if I could find the particular carved words via the internet, since rarely is credit given on the stone. Most of the time, I could not find attribution to any one person for the quote I was searching for. Surprisingly, I found many headstones thoughout the United States adorned the same obscure quote. This led me to speculate there was a master book of acceptable quotes (which I later found to be true in my deep internet searches).
I decided that the quotes that I discovered in the cemeteries and painstakingly searched for their origins would be included in a small media project. First, I photographed some of the most beautiful statues, both of stone carvings and metal work. Then I included both the short headstone quote and the full body of the original work and superimposed them on each photo. These are the lost words of the last words.
I have enjoyed this small project immensely. The long, quiet walks gave me time to reflect on the souls buried and the peacefulness of my surroundings. It also gave me time for me to make decisions of what I would like when I depart this world. Though the subject can be seen by some as morbid, this project has made it easier for me on my continuum of life.