In Memory

One of the things I noticed when I moved from the west coast to the east was the vast difference in cemetery decoration. At the cemetery where many of my family members were laid to rest, there is a two-week-long window before and after Memorial Day when grave decorations are allowed. If you don’t collect them before the window closes, cemetery staff throw them away. This is to make mowing and lawn care easier, but it does make for a vast, gray landscape.

Cemeteries in the east, however, seem to embrace grave decorations, and some people go all out. This is one example, from a cemetery in Sagamore, Mass.


What do you think? Should people be allowed to memorialize their loved ones with flowers, statues and keepsakes, or should cemeteries be kept free of clutter?

5 thoughts on “In Memory

  1. I lived in France for over 20 years and cemeteries can be very “lively” (no pun intended). They show how much people cared about their loved ones and how much they still do, years later. When I moved to CT, I saw similar things and it looked quite familiar. Cemeteries were pretty much everywhere, and not hidden. When I moved to San Diego, it shocked me to see how hidden and isolated the cemeteries are, and how bland they look. It’s like people get buried and everyone forgets about them (the military cemeteries are a bit different). There’s even one cemetery that has a trolley line going right through the middle of it. What the heck?

    • Most people don’t pay much attention to cemeteries, but in New England, at least, they’re like parks. Bushes, flowers, trees. Beautiful. How disrespectful to put a trolley line through the middle of a cemetery! How noisy that place must be. I worked outside of Portland, Oregon, when they were building a light rail out to the west suburbs, and decided to tunnel under a cemetery, and put the line there. What a ruckus that decision caused!

      • I’m relieved to see San Diego is not the only city to show such lack of respect for the dead. If it had been a military cemetery, it would never have happened here. New England cemeteries look a lot like the ones in Europe (in a good way).

  2. Although I have not had time to say so, this post has had me and hubby talking for over a week…in a week or so we head to Nova Scotia and one of the things hubby taught me to appreciate is a graveyard. Our first trip (our honeymoon 9 years ago) I spent quite a bit of time looking at graves of his family members. In my town *most* graveyards have rules about no headstones–they have to be flat markers so maintenance is easy. Out there, I saw gravestones of all shapes and sizes (as you are well aware). We often bring a lunch and share a meal. I didn’t mean to, but I am choking up as I type this…touching the markers of his great grandparents made me feel a deeper connection to his roots…to HIM. I never met them, but there they were. One small decision different in their lives and I would not know my hubby! I think many of my friends in Idaho think I am weird for putting 3 cemeteries on my list of tourist attractions. LOL! Anyhow, thanks, my friend, for the thoughtful post…

    • Anyone coming to Boston needs to put Mt. Auburn Cemetery on their list of tourist attractions. It was designed by the man who designed NY’s Central Park, and it’s definitely the sort of cemetery one has a picnic in. When I go to visit my mom, grandparents, uncle and brother’s graves, there are no trees, it’s either windy or the sun is beating down, and there are no flowers or decorations. It’s as if the caretakers don’t want visitors to stick around. Kind of sad.

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