Surviving Switzerland

an expat's experiences navigating the land of mountains, cheese and chocolate

Back to our alien roots

on May 29, 2014

Only a few days ago, H. R. Giger (creator of the famed and quite terrifying alien monster in Ridley Scott’s Alien movies and Swiss surrealist artist) passed away. He was buried with discreet dignity surrounded by close friends and family members in the cemetery of Gruyères, the town that also houses his art museum, as well as the quite terrifying Giger Bar. According to eye witnesses, a flash of lightening streaked across the sky at the precise moment that his coffin was being lowered in the ground. He probably would have appreciated that mark of respect.

This whole event sparked a conversation around the dinner table among my family. We talked about our personal origins and eventual deaths and where we would like to be buried. H. R. Giger, who is from the Grisons, specifically requested for his final resting place to be in Gruyères. Apparently, he had a particular fondness for the lovely town ever since he implanted his museum there; I can only recommend that the faint of heart abstain from visiting it—the museum, not the town. As for my family, several of us have our origins from Gruyères. My husband, for one, can trace his ancestry to the region and he passed this heritage, of course, onto our children.

I say ‘of course’ but since our daughter is actually adopted, and is genetically speaking anything but Swiss, I find it surprising that her origins are officially considered as being from Gruyères. Swiss people have a peculiar sense of ancestry. When a Swiss woman marries a Swiss man from another area, her origins are changed to his. Not just her name is changed, but the place of her ancestry is changed. Wow.

My husband announced that he would like to be buried just like H. R. Giger—surrounded by family and very close friends, in dignity and simplicity in the Gruyères cemetery, plus the lightening bolt if at all possible. We promised to do our best.

I told everyone that they should bury me wherever is most convenient for them. Here, there, the States, it doesn’t matter.  I figure that once I’m gone I won’t really care one way or the other. Our daughter interrupted to say that she would bury me under the table so I would be in the living room with her forever.

Which would kind of make our place like the Giger Bar: macabre, lots of skeletal décor and coffee.

H. R. Giger, may you rest in peace.


Gruyères Castle in early spring


2 responses to “Back to our alien roots

  1. angloswiss says:

    And now you know why although I am a London cockney from Bethnal Green have now become a citizen of Lengnau in Emmental where the telephone book is full of the name Gerber, my married name. I even understand them, but have been living in Switzerland for the past 47 years, 2 years in Zürich and 45 in and around Solothurn. Married Mr. Swiss 44 years ago and even speak Swiss German at home, but have not fogotten my english – yet.

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