Some things should, simply, NOT BE ROCKET SCIENCE!

Some things just shouldn’t be rocket science. Burying a loved one is one of those things…

A death in the family is hard enough to deal with. The grieving process, the neverending paperwork, and a plethora of other “things no one thought of” – these all tend to make the death of a loved one a very stressful time. However, when you have a loved one that tried to “plan for everything” – and who prepaid for “everything” – that SHOULD make the process a bit easier. Such was the case – or so we thought – with the passing of my paternal grandmother. In her life, my “Grams” had buried a stillborn daughter, her son that was killed in a car accident, and two husbands. Early on in life – my grandparents had purchased a “family plot”. Their stillborn daughter was the first to be buried there. Next was my father – who had been killed in a car accident. Several years later, my grandfather passed. He was laid to rest beside his son and daughter. At that point there were still two more spaces left in the “family plot”. That was 1996.

Fast forward to 2017…

My Grandmother had passed on December 30th, 2016. The family plot, however, is in a tiny town in Vermont. Many may not know this, but you cannot bury someone in the dead of winter in Vermont. The ground freezes – and freezes deep enough to making digging a grave virtually impossible. Because of this, your loved one has to wait unti the spring (at least) in order to be finally laid to rest. Such was the case with Grams. At the end of May, we began working with the town (that owns/operates the cemtery) and our funeral home in order to lay Grams to rest in the family plot next to her son. daughter, and husband. Family members from across the country begin the trek to Vermont to pay our last respects. Or so we thought…

The town cemetery commissioner (and Sexton of the cemetery) went out to the plot on Friday to examine the plot and determine where to dig the hole for the in-ground vault that would hold my grandmother’s casket. To his surprise (and the anger/horror of my family) – he found that the two “empty” spaces were, in fact, NOT empty. Somewhere between the Spring of 1996 and the Spring of 2017, two additional people had apparently been buried in OUR FAMILY PLOT! There were no markers for these graves. He found them while “probing” the plot to find the edges of the other vaults that we knew to be there. To say that we were ALL angry, hurt, confused, and stressed – would be an understatement.

This is a tiny, OLD, New England Town. Folks in the town government tended to be there until they died before being replaced. Unfortunately, this level of longevity can sometimes allow things to be done in a manner that they should NOT be done. Such is the case here. The folks WE were dealing with now – were NOT the ones responsible for the mess we were dealing with. They had “inherited” this mess from previous generations. To their credit – they have tried to be very accommodating. The “new” town clerk donated a plot – behind our family plot – so that my Grams could at least be buried CLOSE to her family. But this just did NOT sit well with the “senior generation” of my family. (That would be her two remaining children – and me as the oldest of the grandchildren). My uncle began contact every agency he could think of in the State of Vermont. After talking with the State Medical Examiner and the state head of cemetery commissions, he went back to the town with reasonable request to make this situation right. While we feel sorry for these unknown souls – they need to be moved from OUR family’s plot and my grandmother needs to be laid to rest beside her husband.

Some might think we are being overly aggressive about this – but in the time span it took us to reach this decision, the town had identified at least 12 other “unknown burials” in other family plots in the same cemetery.  By making the town fix this “mistake” – we may be saving other families from going through this same surrealistic nightmare.  We may, also, be putting pressure on the town to insure that things like this do not happen in the future.

For right now, though, we must wait. Again. By law, the town has to run an advertisement in the local paper (3 times) – saying that they are planning to exhume these two bodies (from plot x and plot y). They have to wait and see if any relative/next-of-kin to these unknown people respond to the ad. Once those 3 ads have run, they will need to exhume these two people and move them to “the new section” of the cemetery (that they just recently opened). That section may fill up very quickly at the rate they keep “finding” people buried where they don’t belong. At that point, my family will – once again – travel BACK to Vermont so that my Grams can be exhumed and then laid to rest, finally, in her proper place.

No family should need to go through this in order to bury a loved one. This is just plain craziness.

This entry was posted in Not Rocket Science.

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