My home town of Venlo is situated near the border with Germany. Our German neighbors frequently flock the city for some extensive shopping, they come to enjoy the good things we have on offer. I already knew that some of them combine their shopping trip with a visit to our crematorium. There is something like funerary or cremation tourism going on.
Although it is possible to be cremated in Germany, the disposal options are quite limited. One is for example not allowed to take the cremains home or scatter the ashes at a place of choice. I initially assumed that the possibility to take the urn home was main reason for Germans to opt for a cremation in the Netherlands. But during various field trips to our local natural burial grounds I became aware of the increasing number of Germans buried or scattered here. I saw a large number of graves with German names and notes. and there is an area in the woods that is used, almost exclusively by Germans, to scatter ashes. The natural burial site allows the bereaved to place a wooden plaque with the name of the deceased – something that is not allowed at the ash-scattering garden of the neighboring crematorium . It is a bit of a surreal piece of forest with dozens of wooden plaques, flowers and piles of ashes spread over this rather small area.
I am really interested in what motivates them being buried or scattered in the Netherlands. Although our countries are close and the borders are open it is still an uncommon step and quite a decision to make. So the question remains…
Pictures are taken at Natuurbegraafplaats Venlo-Maasbree
14 March 2016