I walk to the graveyard every morning. It’s a nice ritual, there the tombstones stand with their quiet whispers and remind me that there was life before too.

Every day I go to there: I visit Daniel, my son’s grave and I walk the dog. The graveyard here where I live is like a big park, where children learn to ride a bike, people walk the dog – like me – and in the summer people lie there and sunbathe, on coloured towels and with sunglasses – sort of to shut the dead ones out.

One would think that walking on the graveyard, the same route every day, becomes a boredom. But it actually doesn’t. I rehearse there and I see the changes. But not only that, I see a culture “grow” and change. You can see, for example, the angels, who have gone from being nymph-like figures, to now plump children similar to the young god Eros. Or on how to name the dead on the graves goes from professional titles to name only. The whole spectrum is intriguing, because they represent hardened memories that slowly wash away over time.
I always have a camera when I go there, so I document small incidents related to the tombstones. Some tombstones crumble, some have lost their names, some have been given a new ornament and some become a casual witness to a person who was there and forgot the cigarette pack. What I like about graveyard and what you see if you look more closely is the mix of nature and culture, the private and the public.
Behind a tombstone may be a story similar to the following:

The man and his father

Source: Example

One man decided that his old father would from now on live in a stable. The man gave his father a ragged robe that he could wear and sleep on.

The man had a son. The son said to his father one day, “Father, can you buy a robe for me?”

His father said, “Why do you need a robe? You have clothes! ” The son replied, “When you grow old, I will give it to you. And do what you did to your father.”

I have experienced the meaningless with death. The meaningless can be understood through a sense of what meaning of death is. This is not a finished size that can be weighed and measured, but meaning is often linked to qualities such as relationships, future orientation, hope and harmony (Nyman & Sivonen). Explaining the presence of death is also conceptually difficult to articulate. To say that someone died is a reality that often sounds too brutal, so it is wrapped up in terms like “he passed away” or “fell asleep quietly,” even within the hospital world, death is avoided as a word or term (Wihlborg, 1998, p. 32).

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) describes man as one

synthesis of two disparate parts, which may be life and death, loneliness and community, meaning and meaninglessness, for example. One chooses one’s self by relating oneself and one’s composure. It can be to body and soul, to time and eternity, or to life and death. (Nielsen & Sørensen, p. 3 – my translation).

From this perspective, death becomes part of the basic conditions of life.
Attganger is a nice word, but is no longer used in the Norwegian language. By Ibsen you will find the title Gjenganger, which is a more modern version of the word, but it is not much used neither. The most common Norwegian word is spøkelse or we sometimes use the word gjenferd. It means ghost. It is the dead person who comes back. The most common reason, tradition of folk legend says, was that the dead had something undisputed. A promise that was broken or a betrayal. Or they had simply forgotten to do anything before they died. It could also be that they returned because they wanted revenge.
There is a folk legend from Østerdalen (a valley in Norway) that tells of a child who died and returned. The siblings became so used to playing with the dead that they simply forgot that the child was a ghost.
I ever so often meet someone who believes that the dead can visit us. I don’t believe it, then I would have seen my son Daniel again.
Here is a slightly more brutal story as an ending to the post:

This happened around 1870 that a man took his own life on a in a hut in a place called Aaseral. There was a restlessness in the place after that, people were afraid to be there, so the hut was left deserted.

But there was one who would go and try and dare to stay there one night and find out how it was.

In the middle of the night he woke up and then the dead man stood in front of him and looked at him.

“How do you feel where you are?” the man in bed asked.

“I’m not so bad now, but I get worse as the times passes on,” said the dead man. “Don’t talk about it anymore,” said the other. – I’m scared. You must leave me.

Then the dead man took the knife and put it on his throat, so that the bloodshot stood against the wall and he immediately was gone.

No one dared to visit the place after that.

(Source: Peter Lunde Kynnehuset Vesteegdske folkeminne I, 1923.)

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