I came across something strange while touring cemeteries in Washington last month. At Evergreen Cemetery, in Everett, Washington, off in it’s own little corner of the property, is a section that piqued my interest. What I saw while driving through was white signs with ranges of numbers on them, and from far away, what looked like piles and piles of flowers.
This was definitely an odd thing to see in such a vast and beautiful cemetery. At first I wondered if this was some type of mass grave, or remembrance of the unknown buried in the cemetery.
When I got closer, it became apparent that the flowers, gifts and trinkets were scattered haphazardly and not lovingly placed in the spot they now lay. I began to wonder if maybe these were items that had blown away from their intended resting spot, and were placed here so that the family could retrieve them and place them back where they belonged.
This seemed like the most logical explanation. But since I was unsure, I decided to contact the cemetery to find out.
I made a quick call to the cemetery and spoke to a very nice woman. I was able to learn that indeed, this was not a mass grave or remembrance of some unknown group of poor departed souls. It was closer to my theory of a sort of cemetery “lost and found”; however, the artificial flowers and such that littered this area were not items that had blown away and their original intentions unknown.
According to the woman, these items were deliberately moved by the people who mow the cemetery lawn, and placed in this area so that the family can reclaim the items and return them to their intended place. The white signs over each pile of items indicate the area of the cemetery the items were found in.
From our conversation, it was apparent that this is a well-intentioned extra effort by the cemetery to preserve these items instead of simply throwing them away.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. Even though I know that all items placed on a grave are eventually removed by caretakers of the cemetery, it’s not something I ever wanted to see. When I leave an item on a grave, and then come back sometime later to find the item gone, I like to think that I gave it to the person who passed away, not that it was swooped up by an employee of the cemetery and dumped in the trash.
I have never seen anything like this before, and I don’t know how I would feel having to dig through a pile like this to find items left for my loved ones.
Perhaps, while the original intentions of the cemetery were positive, this idea was badly executed?
What do you think?