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JLeslie's avatar

What do you think about leaving flowers or stones at a gravesite?

Asked by JLeslie (65199points) 2 months ago from iPhone

Do you think you should follow tradition? Does it matter what you brought to the person in life?

I was on a facebook thread about leaving a stone when you visit the grave of a loved one, it’s a Jewish tradition, and one person said their father hated the tradition. His father would say, “I would not bring that person a stone when they were alive, I’m not going to when they are dead.”

Christians usually bring flowers, but do they bring flowers even to people they never would have bothered to in life? Do families pay to always have flowers on a grave when they didn’t pay for fresh flowers throughout the year when the person was alive?

What do you think about the various expectations and traditions?

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17 Answers

snowberry's avatar

The whole idea of decorating graves seems odd to me, whether it’s stones or flowers. And if I were into the practice, there are lots of folks I have adored in this life, but it never occurred to me to bring them flowers.

cookieman's avatar

I recognize the importance of ritual to the human experience. They support connections we have to each other and our beliefs (whatever they may be).

I don’t participate in this particular ritual (I rarely to never visit cemeteries), but I completely understand why many do.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Leaving stones (not flowers) is an ancient Jewish tradition. It goes back all the way to the Talmud as a way of marking your memory of the deceased. When I visited my grandparents graves, I did put stones on their headstones.

Flowers wilt, which sort of ruins the symbolism for me.

But like most things related to lifecycle events, it’s a matter of personal preference and the customs of that particular religion.

Note, however, that even in Judaism there are various traditions about funerals and cemeteries (and who can be buried there).

kritiper's avatar

Flowers would be best as they would do no harm to a lawn mowing machine and could be composted.
Rocks would have to be removed before mowing and would not be compostable.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Taking flowers to the grave site has ALWAYS been an expected tradition in my family. My Mom always told me that if I couldn’t send flowers to someone while they’re still alive, then do NOT send any to the funeral. The problem there was that my Mom didn’t want flowers while alive, so I did as instructed & sent none to the funeral. Now, twice a year I do place flowers on my parents’ grave. As a matter of fact, the grave site is set up with a permanent vase so you have a safe place to put the flowers. You’re not allowed to add any flags or other forms of memorial because those will interfere with the mowing of the lawn. The flower vase is located in a safe place from the mowers. Whenever anything happens where I would have called Mom or drove to visit her with whatever news, I usually go to the cemetery & have a chat with her so I can keep her up with what is happening. Yes, I know that she’s NOT listening & won’t be responding, but it somehow gives me a little peace as I feel like we’ve connected in some way!!! On one of those visits in the Spring & another in the Fall, I take the flowers with me. They seem to brighten up the grave!!! I realize that this is more of a Southern tradition than anywhere else in the country…I understand that other areas do NOT follow this practice, but it is still my practice!!!

JLeslie's avatar

@LadyMarissa I don’t think it’s a Southern tradition to bring flowers to a grave, I think it’s a Christian tradition. Jewish people leave stones, because stones stay put, and it shows people visited the grave. Stones are available in any climate, in that way they are practical, but they aren’t pretty like flowers.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Yes, I took it on for our entire family, and our connections. I do flowers, flags, solar low lights, knick-knacksmy cousin did a beautiful visiting bench for her grandma. We plant roses or peonies, whatever the deceased preferred. Wash and scrub stones. I’ve burned incense and sage.
Most of us not only decorate our family and friends, but extended family, any soldier with no decoration.
We pay a yearly maintenance fee on Decoration Day for the year that is not mandatory. For trimming and security.
I take pics and send to the family on our group chat.
It doesn’t feel like a religious obligation as much as family tradition to me.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I love the bench. That all sounds very nice.

jca2's avatar

I have a small family and the people I was closest to were cremated, so the only grave I visit on a regular basis is my mom’s. When we go, we will bring her little trinkets and we understand the cemetery doesn’t allow them to stay. My stepfather will plant flowers in the ground (flower plants). I did visit an aunt’s grave in Florida about six months ago, but we didn’t leave anything.

I love cemeteries and we love to visit historical cemeteries and burial grounds but we don’t decorate anything.

I think if people are comforted by decorating graves, they should do what brings them comfort.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@jca2 All our little items stay. Some have been there since I was a child.

@JLeslie Both sites are rural and lovely. One next to a lake, both within 15 minutes of my home.
I have a memorial shelf at home, too. I put fresh flowers there more often than I get to the graves.

jca2's avatar

@KNOWITALL Cemeteries around here have written rules that you aren’t allowed to leave certain types of items, such as ceramics because it’s dangerous for the lawn mowing staff when the mowers hit (and destroy) the items, therefore they will remove them. They’ll leave them for a while but eventually they’re removed.

SnipSnip's avatar

There is no should. Do as you like in this regard.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@jca2 I think some of the city cemetaries have those rules, but the old country cemetaries don’t. :)

jca2's avatar

@kNOWITALL: I just looked at the written rules for one of our local cemeteries, Gate of Heaven. Here are the written rules, which explain why they have these standards. I know local cemeteries in this area are similar.

Flowers that are placed in urns, pots, or self-draining vases should be dignified and tasteful. Items affixed to the outsides of containers or to monuments will be removed. Wire in artificial flower stems is a hazard to power mowers and operators. Artificial floral tributes may only be placed in self-draining vases.

Stands or metal legs used to elevate floral tributes are not permitted. Items attached to wood or metal stakes are hazardous to visitors and workers. As a general rule, such items will be removed as they are seen. The only exception to this is the flags placed during permitted times; shaft-type veteran and fraternal emblems cannot be used. Glass is easily broken in the cemetery and becomes a hazard; glass items are removed as soon as they are seen.

The church honors the custom of visitors expressing their love and devotion by decorating graves where loved ones are buried. Common practice is to adorn burial spaces with flowers. Decorating, however, must be done in a way that does not create a safety hazard, impede proper maintenance, infringe on other graves, diminish the Catholic character of the cemetery, or offend others.

For these reasons, cemeteries adopt regulations for the common good. To be effective, it is sometimes necessary to take steps to uniformly enforce the regulations.

Cemetery offices maintain burial records to assist families in locating graves for the placement of floral tributes. Cemetery rules typically stipulate what decorations are acceptable. During the growing season, fresh/live flowers are encouraged; seasonal artificial flowers are permitted; all flowers must be placed in a pin-type vase. Cemetery superintendents cannot contact individual families if decorations are not in keeping with cemetery regulations. For families unable to visit graves, tributes are accepted from local florists and assistance with placement may be offered.

Nothing temporary may be attached to monuments. Cemetery personnel are sensitive to various ethnic customs associated with decoration, especially at the time of death and burial, and will try to accommodate these customs whenever possible. Federal and state laws, insurance regulations and safety concerns, impact what is permitted.

4 ways in which decorations are usually removed:

Regular Maintenance: Items that are unsightly are typically removed each week during the growing season.
General Cemetery Clean-up: All decorations are removed from graves and private mausoleums four times each year, typically in the months of February, June, September and November. This is done to ensure a thorough cleaning of the properties. Notifications of these clean-up times are typically posted in advance at cemetery entrances and in Catholic New York. Due to the volume of decorations being removed, it is impossible to make provision to claim items after they have been removed. Therefore, should families desire to retain items, they must be removed prior to the scheduled clean-up dates.
Decorations not Complying with Rules: Cemetery employees work in the various sections of the cemeteries on a regular basis. As part of their responsibilities, they maintain the beauty and safety of the cemeteries. As instructed by the Rules & Regulations, to ensure their safety, and the safety of all who visit the cemeteries, they are expected to remove decorations which are not in compliance.
Wind and Theft: Decorations may also be removed by either of these causes. As it is impossible for employees to be everywhere at all times, the cemeteries cannot assume liability for decorations. When items are blown about, the grounds crew has no choice but to dispose of them as replacement at specific sites is not possible.
7. Landscaping
Catholic cemetery Rules and Regulations chart a course of mutual protection for all these groups and the individuals within them. They are intended to help sanctify the memories of those buried within the cemeteries and to create an environment within the cemeteries which awakens faith and brings consolation. The enforcement of the rules assists in protecting the cemeteries, creating and preserving their beauty, and ensuring that the interests of all concerned parties are equally addressed.

Three audiences are considered in exercising the Corporal Work of Mercy known as the burial of the dead.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Wow, it makes sense in cities. :)

jca2's avatar

I don’t live in a city and Gate of Heaven is in a suburb, but I get what you’re saying, @KNOWITALL.

JLeslie's avatar

Maybe it is how large the cemetery is. One might be mowed with a push mower, while the other is on a large riding mower, and the riding mower they can’t be so careful.

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