#17: Learn to cope with death at the Pet cemetery (Eläinten hautausmaa)

All year, Cemetery, Darkness, Helsinki, Spooky, Uncategorized, Walk

This is a spot which I would recommend not only to cemetery enthusiasts – it is situated in the heart of Central Park (a 10 sq km stripe of park area stretching from Töölönlahti Bay to the border of Helsinki and Vantaa), therefore visiting it can be connected with a refreshing walk and wild herb picking. It is not too well know to the locals, so again you will be the smart pants in the gang…

… and most importantly, it is a place taking an unusual and incredibly human stance on the topics of death and mourning.

Pet cemeteries in general are often considered childish products of emotionally immature mind. For me they are the most sincere and personal tangible representations of mourning in Western culture.

When a beloved pet (a valid member of the family) passes away, the bereaved are not tied by any kind of social or religious conventions – with an exception of the fact that they chose to bury the pets in a cemetery and not just anywhere. The tombs come all kinds of shapes, materials and sizes, and most of them are somehow home-made. What you would not dare to do in “normal” cemeteries you are much free’er to do here; it’s exactly the personal touch what makes this space so moving. I’d say this is a great starting point when you want to teach your kids (and yourself, to be honest) about death. How natural it is. How the being who passed away continues living in our hearts, in us, how its presence on Earth shaped us…

Graves are generally very well decorated with a lot of effort: freshly cut flowers, little flowerpots and vases, candles, but unlike human graves you will find pets’ “personal” belongings. Toys. Collars. Balls.

And dogs have their heroes too!

Last note of this post: see you soon, Ideal Idol? Please don’t haunt my dreams.

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Contact: Metsäläntie 9 (about). Bus stop Haaga Metsäläntie.

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#5: Take a walk in Hietaniemi Cemetery (particurally recommended for October 31st)

All year, Autumn, Cemetery, Darkness, Helsinki, Outdoors, Parks, Spooky, Walk

Meh, of course you could see this one coming on the All Saints Day. It is a bit of a cheat, too, I’m sorry, because as you know cemeteries are indeed exciting all over the world.

The Hietaniemi Cemetery is the cemetery of choice in Finland if you are famous and/or rich. It is located very close to the centre (about 10-15 min walk from Kamppi), on the seashore and just off the Hietaniemi Sand Beach. It is calm, park-like, full of tall beautiful trees and squirrels (including Esko, the sweetest of all) – a perfect place for reading books, eating your packed lunch (I have no shame), contemplating and watching sunsets! It is the place of rest of Tove Jansson, Alvar Aalto and many other internationally famous people and even more nationally famous people – all those presidents, opera singers, etc.

Before you set off for a walk download this map of famous graves. Not many people know about it, but it makes life and searching for that Edelfelt grave much easier. And bring some nuts for Helsinkis cheekiest squirrels!

IMG_20151031_203536Tove Jansson’s grave.

IMG_20151031_190957All Saints’ Day – aka how the atmosphere cannot be captured.

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Esko the squirrel…IMG_20150829_185432-1… and a little bit of the cemetery in early autumn. Behind Esko.