Having a public platform is wonderful, thus the reason I love coming here to express my thoughts and feelings. However, when a public platform is used to slam others, that is when I have a problem. Recently, we were on the receiving end of this. What people fail to realize is that there are two sides to every story. I’ve been on BOTH sides now, so please allow me to explain.
I work at a cemetery in town, which I love! I have the pleasure of designing the last gift people can give their loved ones this side of heaven. In this role that I’ve been chosen for, I also try my best to delicately handle any thing that may come up with the families we serve.
Recently, people have gone to the local newspaper to get a story on our cemetery due to the rules that have been reinforced. There are three main families heading this up, and one used their public platform this week to get others to jump on the bandwagon with them against our cemetery. I shared with these families that I have been on both sides of this with another cemetery in town. They don’t want to hear it, though.
Let’s see how their families and my family differ in our response to the same or similar situation with cemeteries in our town.
If you’ve followed this site long enough, you know we lost my sister 15 years ago. She’s buried at another cemetery in town, and about seven years ago, this cemetery took all items off of the graves that were not in a vase. We did not receive any advance warning. There were no letters sent to us in the mail, and there were not any signs posted on the cemetery grounds.
I’ll never forget the phone call I received from my grandmother the day she went to the cemetery to find all of our items were gone.
“Shirley, where are all the items on Pam’s grave?”
“What do you mean, Grandma? They were there the last time I visited.”
“Did you take them?”
“Me? No, why would I?”
“Well, they’re gone! Who else would take things off of the graves? I thought you might have taken them to your house or something, but they are GONE!”
“No, ma’am, I didn’t take anything to my house. The only thing I can suggest is that you call the cemetery to see if they know what is going on.”
Sure enough, after my grandma’s phone conversation with the cemetery, she was advised of rules that only allowed items in permanent vases. This was quite upsetting for us, and many others, since we did have an angel statue out there that I, personally, placed on my sister’s grave. There were other items my dad and grandma placed that were no longer allowed either such as garden flags, wooden crosses, etc. While we did not like it, we simply gathered our belongings, and they were returned to each member in the family that placed their gifts of love on my sister’s grave. I took the angel statue home and placed it in a memorial garden for my sister. The angel stood for many years just outside my window among the roses in my garden.
Fast forward all these years, and I am now employed by another cemetery in town. I can now fully understand why rules are put into place at cemeteries. There are those that will take complete advantage and go crazy placing all sorts of items on the graves to where it begins to look cluttered and tacky. This is not the lasting memorial we’d like to have to honor our loved ones; ie: 15 ceramic figurines, 25 solar lights around the entire grave or marker, 5 garden flags, 3 inspirational garden stones, and the list goes on and on.
The ones screaming the loudest and going to the newspaper this past week are the very ones that had such items all over the grave, grass, monument or marker!
They are taking it as a personal attack against their grieving families instead of looking at it for what it really is – from a safety perspective, these items pose a huge risk! While the grounds keeper tries his best to avoid everyone’s personal items, markers, vases, and monuments have been damaged due to trying to avoid all the clutter on the graves. Not only do we, then, have to take the markers up and send them for repair or send them to be completely remade, the vases that are supposed to be there are broken off and have to be replaced as well. Then there is the fact that a tire punctured by these trinkets, ornaments, etc. cost us about $300.00 per tire that is punctured! As you can see, it is costly! However, the main concern and focus is safety! If these items get caught up in the equipment, they become projectile objects that could injure someone in the cemetery OR break a window out of a passing car! We want to avoid this; therefore, the rules are being reinforced.
And you know what?
For every ONE complaint, we have at least 15 more people THANKING US for finally cleaning up the resting place of their loved ones.
Another thing people are up in arms about and love to scream at us in their angry raised voices, “WE OWN THE LAND. We can do WHAT WE WANT.”
Oh I beg to differ.
You see, people get the impression that they own the land because a deed is issued once they purchase a lot. However, if they would READ the deed, it clearly states it is a DEED FOR INTERMENT RIGHTS. This means they have purchased the right to bury on property still owned by OUR cemetery. That is a common misconception by the vast majority of people. It’s still OUR cemetery. It’s still OUR land. Your loved ones are buried there by the right you purchased – the right to BURY only. Therefore, the argument that it’s YOUR land and you can do as YOU wish is invalid. No, there are still rules, which, by the way, are MENTIONED WITHIN THE DEED ITSELF! People are spewing hatred when if they’d just read the deed, they would clearly see what it says AND see the rules and regulations mentioned within the deed itself. IF in doubt of what those rules and regulations are, just ask! We will be glad to give you a copy if you were not given one at the time you purchased the interment rights. I cannot be held responsible for what the previous staff did or did not do at the cemetery. I can only tell you what I’ve done since I’ve been there, and that is to handle everyone with respect and as gently as I possibly can. Even still, I was attacked in the lady’s rant on her public platform.
It’s this way with any one you set boundaries with. They aren’t going to like it initially, but nothing they can say or do is going to change the boundaries set forth. Likewise, going to the newspaper for a story is NOT going to change the outcome. We still have these rules and regulations in place for SAFETY REASONS and will continue to enforce those rules regardless of what the story says in the newspaper this coming week.
These people that are fussing and spewing hatred cannot seem to see things from a safety perspective at this point. Yet, if they were out there when our grounds keeper attempts to mow around ALL of those items and one gets caught up in the equipment sending it sailing right at them, they’d be the first to march right into an attorney’s office to sue us when THEIR items caused it in the first place!
People love to complain and find fault with others. Yet, they refuse to see things from another’s perspective. As for me? I’ve been on BOTH SIDES! I was once a family member that took an angel statue to my sister’s grave. It was about 12 to 14 inches tall, and it sat on her bronze marker on her grave. I thought it was tucked out of the way, but obviously, the grounds keeper and staff felt it did not need to be there. It was removed and placed in a pile. That is why when our cemetery attempted to reinforce the rules, I told them to please go about it a different way. That’s exactly why we started sending letters out months ago. Those letters were mostly ignored, so we discontinued sending letters and instead, posted signs at the three entrances to the cemetery at the beginning of the year. People read it, admitted that they did, and yet STILL chose NOT to take their items off of the graves. That’s what this person admitted to in her rant about us on her public platform. Yet, when our grounds keeper took the items off of the grave after giving her FOUR MONTHS notice and the chance to do it herself, she is hurt, offended, and pushed over an edge. No, she CHOSE to keep her items on the grave after receiving the notice putting it as delicately as possible, yet also in her rant she talks of receiving the “poorly written letter.” The letter was handling you with kid gloves, lady, instead of being cold and heartless. How do I know? Because I WROTE IT!
Regardless, you can’t please everyone all of the time.
And she further talked of how items were “dumped” once taken off of the graves. This could not be further from the truth. Those items were carefully placed in sections behind our mausoleum. While others have been back there sifting through the items, they are now in a mess and sadly, the people have broken or damaged the items – NOT OUR STAFF! We cannot control other individuals that go back there and toss things around, but the truth of the matter is that they were NEVER dumped by our staff.
There are always two sides to every story, yet people love to play the victim. Keep that in mind when you read someone’s rant on their public platform. The lady that wrote this rant lost a child. My parents lost a child 15 years ago, too, but they didn’t spew hatred or try to get people to jump on their bandwagon and go to the newspaper about it. It’s all in how each family CHOSE to react. I’m proud to say my family reacted in a much better manner.
Rules are in place from a safety perspective, and quite honesty, people did go overboard with ALL of the many items they placed out at the cemetery. Those items are better suited to be placed at your home in your garden where you do own that property and are free to place whatever your little heart desires. IF your husband runs over them in your yard and damages your equipment or they become a projectile object at your house and injury someone or break a window, that’s now on YOU. And maybe if that happens, THEN and only then will you fully understand.