'Angry' and 'heartbroken': Damaged grave sites cut deep with families

REGULAR visitors to Orange cemetery claim statues, flowers and tributes to loved ones are routinely destroyed by careless groundskeepers mowing the lawn.

Teagen Mitchell said she and her family, including sister Susan and children Kennedy and Nikita, often visit the cemetery to pay their respects to her deceased father only to find the items they have left to decorate the grave area, including the grass in front of his headstone, have been destroyed.

“We don’t want to finger point but I’m angry and the kids are heartbroken when they see what’s happened,” she said.

“I think they [cemetery staff] should be careful and move things that are near the headstone if they’re going to get broken.

“It’s about showing respect for people that are no longer here.”

Despite having to replace countless items from around the grave site, Ms Mitchell has vowed not to give up.

“It’s beginning to cost a fortune to replace things we shouldn’t have to replace,” she said.

Another regular visitor to the cemetery, who asked not to be named, said she was “disgusted” by what had happened to her son’s grave.

“This is the last place we can go to pay our respects to loved ones,” she said.

“We don’t want to finger point but I’m angry and the kids are heartbroken when they see what’s happened ... it’s about showing respect for people that are no longer here"

The woman said her son’s nieces and nephews often left mementos on his grave site only to see them destroyed by a mower or whipper snipper.

“It might not sound like much to some people, but it’s important to us,” the woman said.

Orange City Council spokesman Allan Reeder said crews worked hard to make the cemetery a “comfortable and friendly setting for all families to remember their loved ones”.

“The council doesn’t encourage family members to put extra ornaments on and around gravestones,” he said.

Mr Reeder said the ornaments could be blown down by the wind onto neighbouring graves or stolen.

“While mowing the cemetery grounds, council staff do stop mowing to pick up ornaments that have fallen from gravestones onto the grass, but from the driver’s seat of a ride-on mower it’s not always possible to see an ornament that’s fallen over,” he said.

“It would be good for parents to think carefully with their children about what kind of materials they leave at a graveside.”

tracey.prisk@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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