Unmarked Graves

A Guide To Remembering Unmarked Graves at the Cemeteries

For many, the thought of an unmarked grave is a sad thing. Words such as tragedy, and pity are often used when discussing an unmarked grave. Families have been known to divide themselves over the issue over an unmarked grave, one side accusing the other of negligence in perpetuating the memory of their loved one by not providing a suitable grave marker. This article aims to put new light on this issue, bring attention to some of the many important, even heroic stories related to unmarked graves.

What Jesus Christ says about Unmarked Graves

Leaving a grave unmarked is not unacceptable per certain religions.

Good news for those who are concerned about unmarked graves (maybe even one in their family) can be found in the pages of the Bible from Jesus Christ himself. Christ makes it known in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 23, verses 27-28) that unmarked graves are no dishonor. In fact, one can interpret him as saying just the opposite: that fussing over a grave’s headstone, making sure that its is properly and marked, can be a dishonor in the service of God.

In a nutshell, Jesus in that chapter tells the Jewish Pharisees of his day that their self-important actions intended to prove themselves worthy of Gods grace are akin to “whitewashed graves,” a reference to the Pharisees’ careful adherence to traditions that required all graves – especially those of important people in society – be properly marked and respectfully adorned. By making this comparison, Jesus is saying that worrying over an unmarked grave is akin to worrying that certain actions not completed may result in a loss of salvation. The fact is, as The Bible points out repeatedly in just about every book – especially in the New Testament – nothing is required of a person for salvation. So, in Heaven’s view, an unmarked grave is just as good – maybe even better – than a grave that has been fussed over with proper fanfare and décor.

Reasons for Unmarked Graves

Probably the most common assumption for why one would have an unmarked grave is financial. Others would likely assume that a person without a grave marker was too poor at the time of his or her death to afford the luxury of a grave marker. But there are other possibilities as well. There, of course, is the possibility that a person had no friends who saw fit to see his or her grave is properly marked. In the case of people who died in service to the church it may very well be that a humble leader may have legions of followers, all of whom realize that their teacher might very well be troubled by any effort put forth to build his or grave marker. It is true, of course, that these followers may choose to mark the grave anyway, out of their show of respect. But, either way, the point is moot. Fact is, as we say above, in the view of Heaven, a grave marker is an irrelevant feature in just about every case.

Still other graves remain unmarked out of fears that a marked grave might provoke vandalism. Many cases have been cited of celebrities whose sophisticated memorials have been destroyed – or even stolen – by those seeking a black market profit for the dubious souveniers. Families of these celebrities have learned that, absent a 24 hour armed guard standing over their loved one’s grave for eternity, the practical matter of keeping a marker in tact is all-but-lost. In these cases, families sometimes choose to bury their famous loved one in an undisclosed – but marked – location while leaving the “real” grave site unmarked. This is a difficult operation in this day of aggressive paparazzi, but it is done.

Famous Unmarked Graves

Leaving a grave unmarked is ultimately a family's decision.

Some of the most famous unmarked graves involve celebrities whose families faced the troubles we mention above. The Founder of Apple, Inc, Steve Jobs, for example, is said to be buried in a famous cemeteries – mostly devoted to heros of the tech industry – in Palo Alto, California. And, indeed, there is a humble marker installed with his name in that cemetery. But there is great mystery as to whether he is actually buried there. A person as famous, and as inspirational, as Jobs is apt to inspire many memorials across the world from people he never met in life. And that has certainly happened in Jobs’ case. Many a cemetery – or other public place – now plays host to sophisticated memorials to the tech industry giant, and no one has yet been able to publicly confirm that one of those memorials is the real burial spot for his body. The only way to know for certain is to exhume any bodies that may be buried underneath Job’s name in Palo Alto or any other locations and conduct a DNA test on any corpse. To date, no one has seen fit to conduct or approve such a project, possibly because of the no-so-outside chance that Jobs may, in fact, be buried in a secret, unmarked location known only to his immediate family members and listed only in very private documents. This is not an uncommon means of burial for a famous person. Just as many celebrities establish decoy homes while they are still living, the practice is known to continue in death, but, unfortunately, there is very little hope of being able to say, reliably, how many – or which – celebrities have done this in the past.

In general, it is important to remember that stigma associated with unmarked graves is often misplaced or misguided. Some charities have sprung up in the later part of the 20th century that busy themselves with the task of providing markers to those who they have declared unfortunate for not having a marker. While this is a worthy endeavor, it should also be remembered that an unmarked grave is not the blight on one’s eternal reputation that it is sometimes made out to be.