A grieving mother has railed against the council for what she considered to be the vandalising of her son’s grave: they removed ancillary memorial items – flowers, vases etc from the grave.
This is not uncommon, the reason it makes the news is the sensitivity of the individual balanced with the reaction of the council.
We often see parents, rather than scattering ashes, use formal grave plots in cemeteries to inter children. I think for some it might mean more – they can erect a headstone, the site has more of a formal recognition of the loss.
The council need to maintain these sites for the benefit, sensitivities and aesthetics of all – and there in lies the conflict: a grieving mother has little or no perspective of the silent needs of others – why should she? She has just lost her child. However, as these standards around graveside accessories are now fairly common for most sites, why has this made the local press?
Well, it is how you go about it. The council has what some may consider a thankless task – regulating how people would choose to memorialise and yes, it is not easy. However, it is more likely that they could have avoided this conflict by simply putting themselves for a minute in the shoes of the bereaved.
The article reported that: Maria Lyons who tends to late son William’s grave every day, discovered vases, plaques and flowers had all been removed from the plot in Harworth cemetery and dumped in bin bags.
The Mrs Lyons thought was “an act of vandalism” and is reported to say:
“I was absolutely distraught to see it like that,” she said. “In the bin bags was every plant that had been on my son’s grave.”
“The new cemetery is six years old now since the first person went in there, so why didn’t they do this from the off?
“The amount of people that don’t know, they’re going to be devastated, they’re going to be absolutely devastated. I’ve never heard anything like it.
“When you lose somebody you can’t buy them a birthday present, you can’t buy them a Christmas present.
“All I can do for my son is keep his grave nice so it’s a tribute to him.
“We tended that grave and we always cut the grass ourselves, and put all the plants in it. I could understand it if it was unkempt.”
Harworth and Bircotes Town Council had banned decorations and flowers from in front of graves and ashes plots. And in a statement said:
“The Town Council is sorry for any distress or inconvenience caused.
“We are asking families to comply with the regulations obtaining to the overall management and safety issues of the cemeteries; which are aligned to those used by the District Council.
“A copy of the regulations are given to the owner of the plot following the burial of their relative.”
And the reporter noted that: Notices are also understood to have been posted around the cemetery informing of the rule changes.
Sorry Council not good enough. It might be a constant source of frustration that people are breaking your rules. It might be you stuck the rules up on billboards around the cemetery for all to see. But this person is broken, they might not notice your sign, they may not care.
For me it appears that you could have taken greater care. You will have records, so I doubt you would be breaking any data law if you contacted the grave owner preferably by phone or by letter explaining in a sensitive way that her actions are contrary to what is needed.
Then if you get no response or corrective action and you need to remove the items – leave a note on the grave as to where they are, store them in a suitable container in an appropriate location, for her to collect. And let her know who to call if she needs to. This is not above and beyond, this is what courteous and dignified looks like. And I don’t buy the resource argument either, only a minority of people do this and if done during the course of a working day additional cost does not need to be incurred.
Sadly, I think sometimes people responsible are desensitised and these mourners are seen as a problem. For me everyone deserves respect even if they are causing issues.