ALL MY NEIGHBOURS ARE DEAD
What it's like to live next to a graveyard
All my neighbours are dead. I live opposite a graveyard. Many people are spooked by the idea of living next door to a graveyard - but they’re the best neighbours I’ve ever had. They’re quiet. They keep themselves to themselves. They don’t complain. They give me privacy. I like their attitude to life.
I’ve only just moved here so having dead neighbours is a new experience for me. We’re not living on top of each other. There’s a field between us. But I see them up there on the elevated hill. They have the town’s best view. They rarely take advantage of it.
I find myself checking out what they’re up to now and then. Not much. I peek surreptitiously a little later. Still nothing.
Occasionally I wish them good morning or say, “Alright guys?” when I go from one room to another. They blank me but I still like them.
If I wake up in the middle of the night it’s nice to have company. They’re always up.
As I unpack my stuff I look across and I have to say I love what they’ve done with the place.
They live outdoors and they have the best nature.
Graveyards are wildlife sanctuaries protected by the dead who act as rangers to ensure that crows, magpies, interesting bugs and other creatures on the periphery aren’t molested.
Also none of the graves are high rise so the views aren’t obscured.
Another good thing about having dead neighbours is you get to experience the weather vicariously through them. They’re out there in the rain and the sunshine twenty-four seven. They experience the weather with more richness and tactility than the living. Occasionally I feel like I’m missing something when they experience the elements with more contact than me.
Most are strangers but I know a few of them.
I have a great grandpa whose stone I’ve never managed to find.
I have a school friend whose family were pained when they dropped him off at his new home but who himself made no complaint when he was allowed to settle in for the night.
I have some acquaintances. There’s even a baby of someone I know.
Together they make an eclectic group.
They seem to have formed a gang that works even if they had little in common before death.
If you believe in ghosts then living next to a cemetery might be too much for you.
And if you believe in vampires move along.
I don’t know what other monsters or goblins you might be scared of but if you are anxious about goblins and monsters don’t live here.
Also, if you’re icky being reminded of your own mortality then maybe you should pass.
But I actually find it kind of sweet and comfortable living next door to them.
It’s peaceful and there’s nothing morbid at all. It’s just a field of people chilling.
Their graves are like rows of stone sun loungers on the grass - like they’re on the best holiday and don’t have to return to work.
At night it’s like they’re parked at a drive in movie under the stars, all facing the same direction, waiting for the show to start.
They’re so chilled they don’t even care when it rains on them.
They accept everything with such mildness and vegetable zen.
We could learn a lot from the dead in how to approach life.
They never worry about anything. Why should we?
They don’t even worry about death. Why should we?
Living next to a graveyard actually takes the sting out of death.
You see how bloody normal it is.
The act of dying sucks I’m sure. But being dead seems like something we can all take in our stride. It’s the living who bring angst to a graveyard. Once they’ve gone home with their tissues, the dead just get on with being dead. I’ve seen them. They have one job to do and they do it really well.
By the way - I didn’t actively seek out a house next to a graveyard. I’m not that much of a freak. There just happened to be a cemetery nearby and I never gave it much thought till now.
And what I think is: why on earth should I be icky about my dead neighbours? These are people that loved and were loved by others. They joked around kitchen tables and kept the car engine running waiting for people to come out already so they could make it somewhere on time. They’re not criminals for goodness sakes. They’re mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts who are just living somewhere else now. It’d feel weird to treat them like lepers we want nothing to do with just cause they’re dead now. They’re the least problematic people in the world. I can’t think of anyone who deserves less opprobrium than the dead. We are neighbours and we need to learn to get along together.
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