Restricting Flowers in Cemeteries Sends Wrong Message

Jan 21, 2013 | 0 comments

Is it wrong for cemeteries to remove flowers to keep things tidy? In yesterday’s Albuquerque Journal, columnist Leslie Linthicum wrote about a policy change at the Catholic cemeteries run by the Catholic Cemetery Association, titled Flowerless Cemetery Feels ‘Cold’.

The Catholic Cemetery Association, an independent agency that manages two Catholic cemeteries in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe, describes its mission to the living on its website: “By encouraging the visits of family and friends of the deceased, we seek to foster an environment on which love is remembered, hope is rekindled and faith is awakened and strengthened.”

Sunset Memorial Park Mausoleum

Notice the flowers in the background at this mausoleum.

Except they’ve changed their policy on the leaving of flowers, and that impacts visitors.

The Catholic Cemetery Association had already mandated that only artificial flowers be allowed in its mausoleums. They recently enacted a policy that it would clear away decorations in the mausoleums every month and outside in the cemetery every week.

Rather than encourage more visits, the policy has swept away many of the colorful tributes that families brought in memory of their loved ones. As Leslie visited the mausoleum with Nanci Carriveau, who visits her family’s crypts there on a regular basis, Carriveau noted the lack of flowers.

“This used to be full of flowers,” she said as we walked past a who’s who of Albuquerque family names on bronze markers. “It was so beautiful. I used to come here and sit and look at the flowers. It made me feel so warm and so loved.”

She said she could understand cemetery managers getting rid of tattered or dirty displays. But today’s silk flowers are beautiful and last a long time. The mausoleum is a climate-controlled building, so flowers placed there don’t get dirty or faded by the sun or shredded by the wind.

So, what is the problem with flowers remaining at a crypt for more than 30 days?

No word from the Catholic Cemetery Association in reply to Carriveau’s inquiries. Responses are running 50-50 for and against the new policy. Take away the flowers and it’s tidy but cold. Keep them there and you see the love and the personalities. Silk flowers don’t die – what’s the problem?

Isn’t a cemetery a place to express your love for those who have gone to their rest? You can compare the picture of the barren mausoleum wall in the Journal story with the above photo from the 30 Funerals in 30 Days Challenge. It was taken in the mausoleum at Sunset Memorial Park. Flowers do make a big difference in the mausoleum.

A Good Goodbye