- A person who is interested in cemeteries and gravestones
OriginAncient Greek τάφος (taphos, “burial”, “tomb”, “grave”) + English -phile
Among my many strange interests – clown collecting, horror writing, tattoos – is a hobby people tend to find even weirder than the aforementioned. I love cemeteries. I’m not alone; that much is true. We taphophiles are out there, blending in and not talking much about where we prefer to spend our leisure time… because most folks just plain don’t get it. There are varied reasons why people visit cemeteries as a hobby. Some enjoy gravestone rubbing; some are into genealogy and tracing their family ancestry. Me, I just like to take pictures.
There can be awkward moments when I would love to snap a shot of a headstone, but across the way is another visitor, bent over the plot of a loved one, mourning. When that happens, I never whip out my camera or phone. Most people don’t understand a person who appreciates graveyards. Collecting tombstone photos could be misconstrued as exploitation or disrespect of the dead. I assure you, it is quite the opposite.
Certain stones speak to me, touch me in a way that I find myself researching the deceased’s history, thus bringing me closer to generations before mine. And graveyards are such a peaceful, quiet place where the squirrels and birds can safely frolic, so they tend to make me feel one with nature. Mostly importantly, though, this interest of mine helps me appreciate my own time here on Earth. The silence, the stillness, the broken memorials… it all makes you cherish your own life.
“Cemeteries are full of unfulfilled dreams… countless echoes of ‘could have’ and ‘should have’, countless books unwritten, countless songs unsung. Don’t choose to walk the well-worn path to regret. Live your life in such a way that when your body is laid to rest, it will be a well needed rest from a life well lived, a song well sung, a book well written, opportunities well explored, and a love well expressed.” ― Steve Maraboli
“Wherever you go in the next catastrophé
Be it sickroom, or prison, or cemet’ry
Do not fear that your stay will be solit’ry
Countless souls share your fate, you’ll have company!” ― Roman Payne
When you think of the word “stone”, you think of something solid, sturdy, hard to destroy… something that perhaps can weather with the passage of years, but that takes a great deal of time to crumble and fall. That is part of what strikes a chord so deep in my heart about graveyards. Each stone tells a story, as it was intended to do, and it will stand for a very long time to tell it.
“It is upon such stones that men attempt to permanently etch history so they will not exist in a vacuum; it is the final statement after a lifetime of scratching out divisions upon the ground, over ephemeral time itself, merely to give their short journeys meaning, to tell others I was here – do not forget me, do not let my brief blast dissolve into nothingness.” ― Rob Bignell
Along with taphophilia comes an enormous respect for the dead. Most of my time among them is spent solemnly and peacefully admiring the sights. But, I will admit that on occasion I get up to some shenanigans…
I think I will wrap up this blog by sharing the cemetery videos I made 11 years ago. Cemeteries don’t change much, so they’re still as relevant today as ever. That’s the beauty of it! Enjoy. And if you are a fellow taphophile, feel free to comment or get in touch. Happy grave hunting!