We like having a look at grave yards in the places we visit. It offers some insight into local spirituality and culture.

Nowadays in Switzerland the topic of death is uncomfortable and many people just push it aside. With modern medicine, hygiene and a high standard of living death gets delayed. In Switzerland by 2015 people’s average death age is 83.2 years. But sooner or later death knocks at everybody’s door.

Once a death has occurred the immediate family is busy organising the funeral. Typical funeral cards are sent out to the family, friends and neighbours of the deceased. These days quite a few people actually prefer a burial in anonymity or just with the immediate family only.

Usually the funeral takes place within a week or up to 2 weeks after the death. In Christian funerals there is normally some music where the congregation sings songs of the resurrection and of the future together with Christ. The pastor will share a comforting message pointing out that if we know Jesus as Saviour, who has forgiven our sins, we are going to enjoy His fellowship forever. Normally after the funeral the whole party goes out for a meal together in order to comfort the grieving family.

Today cremation is quite popular. Christians on the whole probably still prefer to have the body put in a coffin and then lowered into the earth. In the picture here these are row graves where people get buried in their coffin, one after another.

A funeral with a row grave costs about CHF 20’000.-. This includes the funeral service, a coffin, a meal, a grave stone that replaces the wooden cross later on and a gardener tending the grave for the next 20 years. The graves have to be kept well and in order all year round.

There are other more or less expensive options too. People can have a family grave with several people buried at the same spot. Or people can opt for a common grave where the ashes of quite a few people are poured into the same spot.

Many people do not necessarily hold Christian beliefs anymore and so the funeral can be very different from the traditional Christian ways. People may wish that their ashes are poured into a river or strewn on a mountain slope or just buried beneath a tree.

Each village or city has their own graveyard. Traditionally the graveyard used to be just next to the village church and often still is.

In German a grave yard  is called „Friedhof“ or „Garden of peace“. This expresses the Christian faith that people who die in Christ rest in peace.