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In 1987, when some friends asked me to join them for lunch at Forest Lawn, I thought that the advertising business had claimed two more victims. The stress had been too much for them. But I discovered the cemetery was a much-needed sanctuary not only for birds but for people, offering peace from the daily turmoil one endures to pay the rent.

I began to explore Forest Lawn, discovering its art, architecture, history and beauty. Forest Lawn can be thought of as an outdoor museum of the tastes of the past in art and thought.

The Romantic Period is evident in Victorian themes throughout Forest Lawn -- mourning figures, innocent children guarded by lambs, shattered tree trunks and urns. Also evident are samples of Gothic Revival, neoclassicism, Beaux Arts and Egyptian Revival.

Cemeteries are designed for the living. They speak to us about life, how short and precious it really is. The only thing that separates the visitor from the resident is time.

Allan G. Hebeler is owner of a graphic design and art studio in Buffalo.

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