Author Topic: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)  (Read 4020 times)

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Thel

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Dear eHellions,

I really would like your opinion on this, whether I overreacted and if so, how I could have done things differently (although I hope this situation never ever arises again).

Wednesday morning was a very tough day for me and my mum, as it was the day to have the remains of very dear family members moved from Cemetery A to Cemetery B, to join other very dear family members (to a joint family niche tomb). In addition, we were also interring the cremains of my dear father, who passed away in 2011 -my mum had been keeping the urn at her home but we decided to place him where we will be when the time comes. You can imagine it was a very emotional time.

We were waiting at Cemetery B -we had arrived a bit earlier so as to have time to prepare and grieve- and we were carrying the urn with the cremains of my dear father in the standard bag (recognisable by anyone in the field) which was inside a paper bag with handles, but visible. The cemetery was empty except for two ladies who, we surmised, were looking into purchasing one of the available empty niche tombs. My mother and I exchanged good mornings with the ladies. At some point, we saw at a distance a guard/assistant of Cemetery B who came to show them around. The ladies had seen us place the bag in front of our niche (it was quite heavy).

We strolled a bit to visit a relative nearby, in a row of niches which was partly hidden from view by a partition wall, but only about 20 metres from our niche. Next thing we know, there were the two ladies and the ward *carrying the bag with my father's urn*,  about 10 metres from us, and she (the guard) asked us (a bit loudly if I may say) whether "this was ours". Please note again that it was clear there was an urn inside. I immediately said, in a firm voice, "Excuse me! Please leave this were it was. How *dare* you take this bag?". She didn't move and just stood there. I walked towards her (crying) and took the bag from her and left it again in its place. The guard apologised to my mum and she and the ladies went their way.

Since it was a very emotional situation, maybe my mum and I took it too much to heart (that's why I'm running it past you), but we would never *dream* of touching anything beside a niche tomb, and we both felt that the guard went above and beyond by actually picking up the bag containing the urn, especially as it took her all of 15 seconds between grabbing the bag and seeing us. We also felt that, had we been one of the ladies, we would have told the guard that there were two ladies with the bag and would have tried to prevent the guard from taking *anything* before making sure the owners had left.

On a more positive note, when a bit later the men in charge of placing the remains came, they were extremely kind and sensitive to our distress (not caused because of this incident) and everything went very well. Then my mum and I treated ourselves to a nice lunch, loads of chatting and reminiscing and a small shopping trip. :)

And so my questions are: did I behave well? Do you think the guard was right in being so quick to grab the bag with my father's urn? If you had been one of the ladies, would you have said anything to prevent her? Or am I being too sensitive? (as it may very well be). Thank you very much for your opinions, and feel free to ask for clarification as I am not in one of my most lucid moments.

Margo

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2012, 07:42:04 AM »
While I can see why you were upset, I don't think it was inappropriate for the Guard to pick up the bag or to ask you about it.

From what you describe, it sounds as thugh you were out of sight of the guard at the point seh saw/picked up the bag, so she would have no way of knowing whether it was yours, whether you were coming back, or indeed if it had been left by someone else entirely. If she is a guard at the cemetary then I would have expected that checking on any apparently abandoned items would be a part of her job; it's not like a random member of the public chosing to move something. (To look at it another way - if the bag had ben left by someone else, you would probably not be happy that someone had left an urn in front of your family's niche, and even if the Guard had seen you, and realised that the bag was yours, she would not have any way of knowing whether you had any association with that particualr niche or tomb)

I don't think that it was anything at all to do with the other visitors - in their position, I very much doubt that I would have noticed what you had been carrying or whetehr the bag was anything to do with you, and I would probably not have felt it was my busines to speak to the guard even if I had.

I think I'd put this one down to the fact that you were, understandably due to the nature of your visit, upset and unusually sensitive.

secretrebel

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 08:05:09 AM »
I'm sorry for your loss and make allowance for your distress.

But the guard was within their rights to take the bag. That is their job, to maintain the security of the site. They didn't know if the bag was an accidentally left behind possession.

If you had left your handbag and the guard had collected it would you be angry or relieved that someone had found your property and aimed to safely return it to you?

cicero

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2012, 08:09:00 AM »
I am sorry for your loss and I think your grief was making your overly upset.

From your story  it doesn't seem that the guard was out of line. It sounds like she saw something that was *not in its place* and probably wanted to ask if it is yours before turning it in to the office.

It's possible that there are other factors here - missing facts, her "tone" , etc - that we don't have, but based on what you wrote i think you were probably overwrought.

hugs!

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sparksals

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2012, 08:55:24 AM »
I don't think the guard did anything wrong.  Had the situation been reversed that you forgot it there, i sure you would have been relieved to get it back. 

Sharnita

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2012, 08:59:52 AM »
I think that the guard might have wondered if it was left accidentally, if something was left with malicious intent, etc.  People can do some incredibly destructive things in cemeteries, especially around Halloween which is why there is the need for a guard int he first place.

I think the guard was doing exactly what the guard was there to do.

Zilla

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2012, 09:10:45 AM »
I think it's was just an overwrought day for you both and I completely understand. If it were me though, I would have thanked her.  Maybe there were theft in the area for metals and the guard was concerned.  Maybe the guard thought someone forgot about the urn and didn't want to leave it unattended.  Maybe guard thought cemetery employees brought it out and forgot about it.  Maybe the two ladies thought you both left it for the guard to take.


There are way too many scenarios and none of them nefarious or offensive.  I am sorry for your loss and hope now that they are all together in one place, it will help you and your mom.

Moray

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2012, 09:36:15 AM »
It sounds like the guard was trying to make sure you didn't leave something important behind. You ought to have thanked them.

I generally find most people aren't out to be rude or cause inconvenience, and my life is much more pleasant when I approach the world with that in mind.
Utah

Sharnita

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2012, 09:37:36 AM »
I think moving forward there might be comfort in knowing the cemetery is taken care of by a vigilant security guard.

Thel

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2012, 10:39:26 AM »
Dear all,

Thank you very much for your kind responses and hugs and for helping me put things into perspective. I did not think of any of the scenarios you are describing where it is reasonable that she took the bag with the urn. I suppose what threw me off is that she didn't do a visual check before (we were really very close), but of course it was my dad and I agree that I was in a very emotional state.

I generally find most people aren't out to be rude or cause inconvenience, and my life is much more pleasant when I approach the world with that in mind.

I always try to see the best in people and their intentions, and in my everyday life this is what I do. That is why I posted here, because I felt that my emotions might have clouded my judgement in this instance.

I think moving forward there might be comfort in knowing the cemetery is taken care of by a vigilant security guard.

This is a very positive thought and when next I visit my family, I will try to find the guard, apologise and let her know. :)

Zilla

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2012, 10:51:44 AM »
I know you mentioned a visual check, but how would she have known you guys were the ones to have left the bag?  You guys are at a cemetery and grieving and would not want to intrude by asking if these ashes belong to you. 


I think it would be very kind for you to seek out the guard but not necessary either.  Again hugs.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2012, 11:33:03 AM »
The first part of your response was fine (Please put it back).  The second part was not so fine but I'm sure the guard, working in a cemetary, has dealt with plenty of bereaved families and wouldn't have been at all phased by it.

If you happen to come across the guard during your next visit, I'm sure she'd appreciate the apology but I wouldn't worry too much about actively seeking her out.

Moray, I'm going to try to remember that sentiment myself when someone does something I find to be rude in the moment.
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O'Dell

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2012, 11:43:33 AM »
Dear all,

Thank you very much for your kind responses and hugs and for helping me put things into perspective. I did not think of any of the scenarios you are describing where it is reasonable that she took the bag with the urn. I suppose what threw me off is that she didn't do a visual check before (we were really very close), but of course it was my dad and I agree that I was in a very emotional state.

I generally find most people aren't out to be rude or cause inconvenience, and my life is much more pleasant when I approach the world with that in mind.

I always try to see the best in people and their intentions, and in my everyday life this is what I do. That is why I posted here, because I felt that my emotions might have clouded my judgement in this instance.

I think moving forward there might be comfort in knowing the cemetery is taken care of by a vigilant security guard.

This is a very positive thought and when next I visit my family, I will try to find the guard, apologise and let her know. :)

I'm glad you are getting a better perspective on the situation. I think Sharnita makes a very good point. Sometimes in the moment, an official/guard doing their job is inconvenient or even hurtful, but later you can see how they are protecting your best interests.

I'm sure the guard understands you were upset and not thinking clearly. If you want to, you can call management and leave a message of apology, but it is okay if you leave it alone. Or as you say, apologize if you see him again.

(hugs)
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Thel

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2012, 11:55:50 AM »
I know you mentioned a visual check, but how would she have known you guys were the ones to have left the bag?  You guys are at a cemetery and grieving and would not want to intrude by asking if these ashes belong to you.

Oh, I meant a visual check to see if there was someone nearby and ask, before she actually picked up the bag with the urn -it was early and the cemetery was otherwise deserted, so there was no danger of anyone stealing it. I don't want to go into an elaborate description of the cemetery setup, but we were very easy to spot. My (emotional) issue was her picking up the bag immediately, but I do understand that I was in a sensitive state.

I'll follow the general sentiment and not go out of my way, but I'll definitely say something to the lady guard if I see her again. She really does not have an easy job.

Again, many thanks to all for your advice and hugs.

TootsNYC

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Re: Cemetery etiquette - How would you have reacted? (burial, grieving)
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2012, 12:43:02 PM »
If you hadn't wanted anyone to "mess with it," it would have been best to keep it with you.

The guard might have treated the cremains a bit casually, but I think she was following the clue that you left her--which is, you left the cremains sitting against a wall, unattended.

Sure, you were easily seen, but you set it down and walked away from it. I would have assumed that you had a relatively relaxed attitude toward the urn and its contents.