Griffith’s grieving families have been dealt a fresh blow after a visit to their loved ones’ graves brought with it more upsetting news.
In the four years since she unexpectedly lost her father Jessica Taylor says she has visited his grave at the city’s cemetery two or three times a week.
Usually the visits help her feel closer to the father she lost, but a recent trip left her devastated after she found a notice tucked under his plaque informing her the ornamentation and embellishments she and her family had lovingly placed there must be removed, or else staff would take them away.
“Honestly, I was in shock,” she said.
“Being able to put gifts or other things down on days like Father’s Day, it is a way of still including him in our lives.”
“This is the one place we have to feel close to him.”
Ms Taylor said she felt let down by the notice and urged Griffith City Council to reconsider their policy.
Council says it is a situation where its hands are tied, with its cemetery management plan obliged to comply with legislative requirements set out in the Crown Lands (General Reserves) by-law 2006 – which prohibits items of embellishment on graves.
“Council understands that the recent request to remove items placed near the plaques on the lawn cemetery has caused some heartache for families and friends of those who are buried at the Griffith Lawn Cemetery,” director of infrastructure and operations Phil King said.
Mr King said while council was sympathetic it had to be responsible for safety, with excessive ornaments or statues posing a number of risks.
“The burial plots in the traditional sections of the cemetery are available to be more personal and allow variety for both headstones and adornments,” he offered.
But it is an option not within the means of all, as pointed out by Darlington Point man Wayne Oldham who lost his mother in 2009.
“If I had the money I would have loved to bury mum there, but she is not any less special because of that,” he said.
Mr Oldham said he had been “taken aback” on finding the notice on his mother’s grave, saying the ornaments placed there helped remember the woman his family lost and were an important part of their grieving process.
Confused Mr Oldham asked why, when his family had paid for the plot and had placed their ornaments out of the way, they had to remove them.
The thought of doing so he says is difficult to say the least.
“Going there to just a plaque would feel like no one cares, you see graves with dead flowers and no statues and you think ‘how sad is that’ – their memory is lost forever,” he said.
“You can always tell when a loved one goes to see mum. . .there’s fresh flowers and it helps you know she is not alone and that her memory is still alive – it makes you feel better,” he said.
“If you were to walk in here in two years time and there are no ornaments, it would be like this is a place where you are buried and forgotten.”