Although Ivan has sent his private e-mail so that not everyone is on the list,
please include me in your responses. I am fascinated!
>===== Original Message From "The Social Context of Death, Dying and Disposal
of the Dead" <[log in to unmask]> =====
> You have brought forth a very interesting situation. I must admit I am
>surprised members of the community are so opposed to delaying the final
>committal because of inclement weather conditions. Delaying burials during
>the winter months was the normal procedure when the vaults were erected
>(usually late 19th century). The vault is also necessary to store remains
>when new sections are being developed (although lots have been sold) or
>individual family vaults are being erected.
> I know of a situation where a cemetery began selling lots in earnest
>in new sections. There were quite a few "visitors" in the vault that summer
>waiting for their final resting place to be landscaped. One woman would come
>like clockwork on all holidays to visit her husband sojourning in the vault.
>Finally, everyone was moved out. I believe at least a few of the families
>had another small committal service at the graveside.
> Surely there are rules and regulations set up by the Association that
>address delaying burials during the worst months of winter. That would be
>the first verification to make. Next, is there notification made to anyone
>purchasing a lot that burials may be delayed.
> When you refer to an Association, the assumption I make is that this
>is a privately owned, nonprofit (as opposed to local government ownership,
>thereby making it "public") cemetery. Usually, a private business can
>determine their own rules and although some members of a community may not
>like them, they do not have to change due to public pressure. Of course, no
>cemetery can afford to turn paying customers away. The Association would
>have to weigh the pros and cons of the situation and do what is best for
> Although there are methods to clear the snow and defrost the ground
>enough for burial, I would imagine this is very time-consuming and costly,
>which is perhaps why the Association would prefer to avoid winter burials.
>Whatever reason, I am surprised, too, that a group of people would assume to
>force a private business to conform to their wishes if it is obvious that
>others are willing to abide by the regulations.
> If, as you infer, the Association is part of a "public" entity, then
>shouldn't the situation be discussed by the trustees, with the public's
>input, and decided that way? If it is a cost constraint, then an option of
>winter burial at an additional cost might be considered.
> I can certainly understand the emotional distress this may cause for
>some people, but there really needs to be an upfront agreement made when a
>lot is purchased. Although most funeral directors and cemetery sextons would
>prefer pre-need purchase, many are still resistant to that practice also.
> Perhaps a representative from the group (before hiring a lawyer) can
>meet with the Association and discuss the concerns in order to reach a
>mutually satisfactory solution. If not find a compromise, at least hear a
>reasonable explanation of the current decisions.
> I would be very interested to hear how this progresses and is
>ultimately resolved. Best of luck to you.
>Tomb With A View (A Monumental Experience)
>> There is a situation developing here on the otherwise-placid isle of
>> Newfoundland which I am trying to better understand, and was hoping that
>> someone on the list may have suggestions. It relates to winter burials.
>> In most communities, bodies are buried year-round (the cremation rate here
>> is maybe 6-7%). Given that we have a great deal of snow, this means some
>> significant snow-clearing and ground-thawing for cemeteries. However,
>> several communities also have vaults, in which they will keep the bodies of
>> those who die between about the 1st of November and the 1st of April.
>> Then, early in April, these bodies are buried (often on the same day, and
>> generally without any ritual). The body is consecrated before entering the
>> “burial vault” and so needs no further intervention when it is buried
>> the spring.
>> The problem is that many people do not like the winter vault and spring
>> burial practice. In several communities, large numbers of people have
>> organized and signed petitions to try and get their local cemetery to give
>> people the option of having winter burials. In one community of 8-10,000,
>> they already have about 4,000 signatures on the petition. The cemeteries
>> are run by a Cemetery Association, generally composed of clergy and funeral
>> directors and sometimes a few other community notaries. These Cemetery
>> Associations have resisted the move to a winter burial option, and refuse
>> to even discuss why they oppose it.
>> I am wondering if you know of other situations where communities were able
>> to alter the practices of their local cemeteries, especially if they did so
>> through legal means. If the practices were altered, what were the legal
>> grounds which supported the change? One group here in Newfoundland is
>> considering hiring a lawyer and taking the Cemetery to court, but they are
>> not sure what grounds to use – is it a matter of human rights (the
>> emotional suffering of the bereaved who undergo two burials for the
>> deceased?) or democratic rights (if the majority of a town votes for winter
>> burials, should not a public body like a Cemetery Association be bound by
>> that decision?).
>> If you have any suggestions (or relevant anecdotes), please e-mail me at <A
HREF="mailto:[log in to unmask]">
>> [log in to unmask]</A>
>> Any and all assistance is much appreciated.
>> Ivan Emke
>> Associate Professor
>> Social/Cultural Studies
>> Sir Wilfred Grenfell College
>> Memorial University of Newfoundland
>> Corner Brook, NL
>> A2H 6P9 Canada
>> 709-637-6200, ext. 6322
>> Fax: 709-639-8125
>> <A HREF="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]</A>
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