Opinion: Concern regarding cemetery changes

Jan 25, 2024

To the editor:

Dear Board of Selectmen and Cemetery Commission,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to bring to your attention a matter of concern regarding the recent changes proposed by the Cemetery Commission in relation to grave site décor.

The Cemetery Commission has attempted to impose new regulations on what they consider to be acceptable and appropriate grave site décor. The article in last week’s Sippican Week clearly shows how completely out of touch these members are to the sensitivity of this matter. To impose such menial and subjective restrictions on how family members pay tribute to and memorialize their deceased loved ones is completely unethical and lacks any empathy to the survivors.

Margie Baldwin’s statement comparing the current state of town cemeteries to amusement parks was completely unjustified and crass. We buried my mother at Old Landing Cemetery by Ryder Lane just three years ago and we take deep pride in keeping her site tastefully decorated. We did in-fact use edging with white stones around the immediate perimeter of her memorial. We also have seasonal plants and flowers which are sometimes artificial especially in the winter months. Possibly confused as a “toy” as Miss Baldwin said is a decorative frog that sits at the base of her memorial as my mother loved frogs. We also hung a hanging plant on the tree that shades her site. This is our way of paying tribute to the life of my mother and I don’t believe anyone would say it resembles an amusement park.

I’m a reasonable person and I have no problem in having some realistic guidelines that are fair and allow personalized tributes. I know for a fact there were no restrictions on grave site décor when we purchased this plot from the Town of Marion Cemetery Commission. I personally don’t see any reason to change and restrict personalized items or ban artificial flowers. We feel that these members of the Cemetery Commission are making extremely poor decisions that are in no way fair or justified and are completely void of any humanity. If we let these things pass what’s next … restricting what we can have etched as an epitaph on every new grave stone? It appears that these changes are based on subjective opinions rather than objective guidelines. Such subjective standards can lead to confusion and inconsistency in the way our deceased loved ones memorials are treated.

I kindly request that the Marion Select Board and Cemetery Commission review these proposed changes with utmost consideration. It is important to strike a balance between preserving the sanctity of the cemetery and allowing families the freedom to honor their loved ones in a manner that is meaningful to them.

I believe that a collaborative approach involving community input and feedback would be beneficial in developing guidelines that are fair, respectful, and reflective of our diverse culture and personal traditions.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I trust that the Marion Select Board and Cemetery Commission will carefully evaluate the concerns raised by the community and take appropriate action to address them.

James Chandler and Diana Skidmore, Marion