The city planners of Mexico City are sounding the alarm with regard to the rapidly disappearing land available for the final disposition of its citizens. In a story reported in the Charlotte Observer, it has become clear that the city’s cemeteries are quickly approaching full occupancy, and this fact has caused members of the city’s legislative assembly to explore other final resting places for those who have passed away.
Mexico has a long and colorful history centered on honoring their dead. Dia de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead), a two-day event held November 1st and 2nd, is a time when surviving family members gather to remember loved ones who have passed away. Elaborate altars are erected at their graves with candles, colorful sugar skulls, and the favorite foods and drinks of the deceased placed atop them. This tradition, many believe, is at risk of disappearing if the laws regarding burial time limits are allowed change.
Estimated at over 19 million residents, the population of Mexico City and its immediate surrounding areas are struggling to address an issue that is affecting more and more large metropolitan areas the world over: What do we do with our dead? According to assemblywoman Polimnia Sierra, who proposed a law that would reduce the amount of time a body could reside in a gravesite, the city’s 119 cemeteries only have 71,000 grave sites available, and each year about 30,000 people die in the capital.
“In less than three years (the cemeteries) will be completely filled,” Sierra explained, in defense of the law which was passed by the assembly this summer but sent back by Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera who wanted changes to its language. A vote on the revised law is expected soon.
In order for the law to be successfully upheld, there has to be a massive education effort among the city’s residents on the benefits of alternate forms of disposition, including cremation. As cremation has become more broadly accepted over the past several decades, it is clear that cultural norms have changed in response to current needs and attitudes. Other societies that widely practice rituals for remembering their loved ones, like South Korea, have embraced cremation wholeheartedly. It is likely that Mexico City’s limited cemetery space will change how Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in the coming years.
In the United States, a few of our larger cities are witnessing a depletion of available land for traditional burial. But we are not seeing this phenomenon on the same scale as Mexico City because the acceptance of cremation as a means of final disposition has been steadily growing, year after year.
Cremation is the preferred choice in many states and on the rise in North Carolina. If you live in or around Charlotte, North Carolina and have questions about cremation or are ready to begin planning your own end-of-life affairs, complete the form on this page to receive your complimentary cremation guide.