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When people die, they don't simply disappear. There are remains - physical remnants of their mortal existence, their "mortal coil" that bound them to their lives. There may or may not be people left behind - family, friends, co-workers, relatives. Beneficiaries. Or victims. Emotional ties, financial commitments, social and ethical considerations.

Collectively, the "remains of the day" taken with someone's passing can be a hefty load, far more than simply the empty husk of the corporeal shell.

Our society, which consists of multiple cultural, religious and social customs, buries its dead. Or cremates them. Depending on tradition, and then subject to affordability, one might secure a spot of real estate where a family's loved ones could be interred, complete with a marker for their grave that will also serve as a reminder of their lives.

A place for the family, friends or others to come to pay their respects. A touchstone, in the form of a marker or tombstone.

For some, this is an end point. A place for the departed to rest in peace; a fixed point for the survivors to come to touch base with their predecessors or former contemporaries.

Ideally, such sites and spaces are afforded a degree of somber, silent respect. This, sadly, isn't always the case.

In the case of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of two brothers responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing, there may be no common ground. The city of Cambridge has asked his family not to request burial in a city-owned graveyard. Several private graveyards have already stated that they won't take his body. No matter where his family turns, if they seek to inter his remains in any hallowed ground in the Boston or surrounding environs, they may face rejection.

Whether or not people believe that Tamerlan Tsarnaev is deserving of a burial on hallowed ground, his family now has the additional burden of trying to honor their traditions and bury their dead when the very community around them refuses to let them. Knuckleheads Tamerlan and his brother Dzhokhar not only created mass mayhem, murder & destruction - they also left their families with the additional burden of having to slog through the mess they left behind. Tamerlan (unintentionally) left them with the responsibility of burying his body; Dzhokhar, with the weight of watching as his trial progresses.

But where Tamerlan is laid to rest should be a simpler matter. If graveyards are meant to provide a sacred or respected place for quiet burial of the dead, any place should do. The dead would likely mind far less than the living, albeit it is the perceived reactions of the dead in the minds of the living - coupled with the hearts of the living - that will pose issues, as well as the potential actions of those living now or in the future in their self-imposed own efforts to gain notoriety that create issues for the Tsarnaev family as well as any cemetery that would accept Tamerlan's remains.

Because people - the living ones - are cruel. They can be heartless. They are often stupid, vapid, vain, ignorant and unsympathetic. There will be vandals. Protestors. Some families may be rightfully offended that the man responsible for their own family's losses, pain and suffering might be forever placed in painfully close proximity of their lost loved ones,1 but others will come from further away for an opportunity to vandalize the grave of someone of such notoriety.

The city of Cambridge, and the private cemeteries, have a right to be concerned. The family Tsarnaev, too. But they also have a right to bury their dead, in their tradition, and hope that this one element of closure to a series of events that left behind so many open wounds will be the start to a long road of recovery, healing and peace for all.

The issues aren't with the dead. The issues remain with the living. It's for the living to sort them out.

And therein the problems lie.

Originally posted to Boston Kossacks on Mon May 06, 2013 at 06:16 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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