Prepare for Death

Granary Burying Ground, Boston, Massachusetts

The skeleton is a symbol found on gravestones that is to remind the viewer of life’s brevity and of the decay of death.  The skeleton above is on a tomb in the Granary Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts.  The primitively carved skeleton conveys the haunting message to remember death.  It reminds us that our flesh will rot and all that will be left behind will be a skeleton.  This particular skeleton is holding an hour glass, another symbol that represents the idea that life is short. 

There are also many epitaphs that can be found on gravestones to remind the viewer that life is short.  There are many variations of the most common one of these epitaphs: Remember me as you pass by/As you are now, so once was I/As I am now, so you must be/Prepare for death and follow me.  Below are more examples of this theme:

Death is a debt to nature due/Which I have paid & so must you.

Whilst oe’r my grave you stand and see/Remember you must follow me.

Hark from the tomb a dolful sound/Mine Eare attend the cry/Ye living men come view ye ground/Where you must shortly lie.

Such as thou art, sometime was I/Such as I am, such shalt thou be.

Death is a debt/By nature due/I’ve paid my debt/And so must you.

For sudden death/Prepared be/Resign your breath/And follow me.

Behold my friends, in me you all may see/An emblem of what you e’er must be/Remember you like me was form’d of dust/And with the earth unite again you must.

My friends, ime here the first that come/And in this place for you there’s room.

Passenger stop as you pass by/As you are now. so once was I/I had my share of worldly care/As I was living as you are/But God from all has set me free/Prepare for Death and follow me.

Stop my firend! O take another view!/The dust that moulders here/Was once belov’d liek you!/No longer then on future time relay/Improve the present and prepare to die!

He that was sweet to my repose/Now is become a stink under my nose/That is said of me/So it will be said of thee.

Now she is dead and cannot stir/Her cheeks are like a faded rose./Which one of us must follow her/The Lord Almightly only knows.

Learn then, ye living! by these mouths be taught/Of all these sepulchres, instruction true/That, soon or late, dath also is your lot/And the next opening grave may yawn for you!

Time was i stood as thoust dost now/And viewed the dead as thou dost me/Ere long thoult lie as low as I/And others stand and look at thee.

The Benjamin Hale and the Asa Hatch Tomb, Granary Burying Ground, Boston

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