Time travel as close as your local cemetery.

Grave decorations—honoring the dead or annoying the neighbors?

January 20, 2014 / by davidwalton


A lone bottle of beer adorns a headstone at a cemetery in southern Indiana. Should such displays be allowed?

Neighbors. We either love ‘em or we hate ‘em; there’s usually no middle ground.

Over the years, I’ve had my share of both good and bad neighbors. Good ones clean your car off after a snowstorm or give you a lift to work when your car is in the repair shop. Bad ones pass out drunk with food cooking on the stove and set off the fire alarm or are hoarders and their furniture stockpile has spread out into the hallway.

I’ve experienced similar situations at work — good co-workers with a clean, tidy, fresh smelling cubicle and bad co-workers with messy, cluttered workspaces that reek of take-out.

Do you consider cemeteries neighborhoods? I think they are, except cemeteries have permanent tenants.

Just as some neighborhoods have rules and regulations, so do many cemeteries. Neighborhood associations can prohibit you from planting trees and shrubs; tell you where you place a mailbox and whether you can fly an American flag, among other things. Some even prohibit you from parking a car in front of your house!

Cemeteries can be just as stringent when it comes to rulemaking: no artificial flowers; no plantings (flowers, shrubs or trees), no ornaments or decorative objects. Some cemeteries, such as Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, prohibit photo shoots from taking place on cemetery grounds which typically isn’t enforced unless you’re caught.

A pair of miniature Christmas trees, yard ornaments, an assortment of holiday figurines and an oversized Santa hat make this headstone a definite standout.

And then there are those neighborhoods and cemeteries where there are no rules. How many times have you driven through a nice neighborhood only to find one house that’s either run down or has so much junk and clutter on the property it could pass for a junkyard?

The situation can be similar in cemeteries where there are no formal rules or where they aren’t enforced. You might have an entire section with nothing but headstones and then there’s that one that has decorations all over it.

Should decorations be allowed? And, if decorations are allowed, should people be limited to the number of decorations?

I’d like to hear what you think.

Until next time…



4 thoughts on “Grave decorations—honoring the dead or annoying the neighbors?

  1. I think decorating helps loved ones left behind. I can’t imagine anyone objecting as long as the grave is maintained (i.e. decorations aren’t left on until they’re more trash than treasure).

  2. Cherie Negete says:

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm this is a good question i need to ponder, i believe some signs of respect to the dead that we may find not so appealing just normal curltural practices for some? I will get back to you on this.

  3. True! says:

    Loved this. I rather like all the trinkets left for loved ones. Does make you think.

  4. ~ Tonya ~ says:

    I think of it like this….as a functional purpose, cemeteries are memorial markers for those loved ones who need a place to work through their grief. A placeholder where they can physically be to work through their feelings. I personally do not need that to remember and honor my loved ones but some people do. There are also other reasons in visiting cemeteries of course, beyond their functional purpose. To enjoy the aesthetic appeal and historical value. When I visit a cemetery, 99% of the time it is to enjoy the surroundings and learn something but I don’t begrudge those who have a different reason to visit and when I see a trinket laden headstone I will stop and learn something from that as well.

    If you want to marry the two points together of grave decorations and historical significance, give this a read: http://www.snopes.com/military/coins.asp

Leave a Reply

WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien
%d bloggers like this: