OUR VIEW: Does a cemetery have to be so lifeless?

We say: Can’t we allow for some colour and individuality?

There’s something unpalatable about the city telling families the only thing they can decorate their loved ones’ graves with is fresh flowers.

In recent years our society has made strides towards de-sanitizing death and dying, making it something that we can talk about and accept at a certain level. When the jogging craze began 30-40 years or so ago, graveyards became a quiet place to at least include in your route. People were also encouraged to visit cemeteries to meditate and reflect not just on departed family members.

The cliche of a cemetery being the setting for a Gothic horror movie was finally swept away. A cemetery could serve as a comfort to those left behind.

But city council’s decision to sweep off anything other than fresh flowers – no wilted flowers, mind you – just seems to be a step backwards. It seems like an attempt to sanitize death. Do graveyards have to be perfectly-groomed, neatly ordered rows of identical gravestones? Is that really where we want to inter our loved ones? That’s not a final resting place, that’s a cupboard.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not advocating plastic windmills and laughing gnomes holding onto crinkly, aluminum balloons celebrating the life that once was with a Hallmark card cliche printed on it. But can’t we allow for some colour and individuality? Flowers only? Really?

Do “adornments” really pose a hazard to funeral and cemetery staff? If so, then do we have to go to the other extreme? Oh, and by the way, don’t let your flowers wilt or they’ll be removed at the first sign of browning.

It’s obvious that people in the community want to mark the passing of their loved ones in this way. It’s become an expression of our culture. It’s ironic that it’s the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture who is coming down as the heavy on this expression of new traditions. Once again, a bureaucrat is dictating to the community how the expression of emotions will be conducted in this city.

If a family wants to place a tasteful candle or some such on their relative’s grave, what’s the big deal?