Posted by: lucylastic | February 9, 2011

Dying for some noise………….

I came across an article today that really made me stop and think.  A cemetery in Colchester has come under fire from different groups of mourners because of an increasing number of ‘noisy and distracting’ momentoes that people – especially the parents of children – are putting by their graves.

According to Tony Walter, Professor of Death Studies at the University of Bath, (who knew such jobs even existed), “There is an undercurrent of class conflict in the battles to restrict grave displays.  Taste wars have broken out in the British cemetery, and these taste wars are to some extent class wars.” 

Speaking from a personal point of view, I have to say, I don’t like where this is going – my late husband is buried in a small cemetery in Oxfordshire – much more akin to the neat rows seen above than the ‘like Poundland’, (to quote a Councillor in Essex), displays in evidence at Colchester.  And I wouldn’t be keen on seeing lots of other decorations either.  But surely there’s a way to please most of the people, most of the time, with this?  A specific area, for example – where it is permissible to add extra adornment to graves and trees.  Why, oh why do we have to legislate for everything these days?  Has no one any common sense any more?  It seems not.

Growing up with a Polish mother, (and late husband was Polish too), I was taken to Polish cemeteries from a young age.  I am used to seeing very ornate headstones, well tended plots, lots of candles and lots of pictures of the deceased, (which I have to admit, I always found very disconcerting, especially as the eyes always seemed to follow me).  There are indeed cultural differences in how and how long we mourn.  Some may find the average Polish cemetery far too ‘full on’ for their comfort and liking.

A young boy was killed on the pavement not far from our church a couple of years ago – tragic and extremely sad.  But ever since, there have been a succession of teddies, flowers, footballs and gaudy nosegays attached to the spot – I think it’s time to move on.  One only has to recall the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and immediately what springs to mind is the scale of (mostly floral) tributes that people felt moved to bring.  I don’t think we’ll ever stop people trying to express their feelings – and whether they are perceived as ‘tacky and tat’ or a deep expression of grief is open for much more debate.



  1. It’s a subject I find endlessly fascinating….other countries use their cemeteries as civic amenities, where it’s pleasant to stop and reflect, and the graves reflect love, loss and celebration of life. It does seem very variable around the country what is and isn’t allowed. In the TV show “Big fat gypsy weddings” they showed the grave of an 18 year old, festooned with photos, flowers and candles, and the gypsies gather round the grave every year to celebrate his life. Quite a contrast to a lot of 18 year old graves which are bare and untended.

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