Shaker funerals were certainly somber affairs without much pomp and circumstance. Their funerals functioned as a way to recognize the end of one’s earthly existence, but more importantly, to celebrate the Shaker soul and its entrance into heaven. Once there, they would be embraced by Mother Ann Lee and live on with their brethren and sisters who went before them to that holy place.
The Hancock Shaker cemetery is actually the second cemetery used by the community. The first was located to the northwest of the village. The cemetery that visitors see today was consecrated after a serious epidemic swept through the Shaker community in 1813. The monument dedicated to the “Shaker Church” was erected in 1943, after a ruling was sent out from the Central Ministry that all individual grave markers were to be removed. The single marker signifies the communal aspect of Shaker life, representing the way they lived their lives on earth, and the way they went on to live them in heaven.