Historic cemeteries often have missing monuments and inconsistent or missing records. We offer accurate mapping and location services that make your decisions easier.
Historic cemeteries are precious outdoor museums. We can develop a conservation plan for your monuments that works with your cemetery's resources.
We can help you make sense of old ledgers and do the research to fill in the gaps that will tell a fuller story for your cemetery.
Cemetery Mapping and Consulting services
Recently Metro, Portland's regional government that manages 14 historic cemeteries, began enforcing a policy forbidding most gravestone mementos and decorations other than flowers. Such policies are common in lawn cemeteries, but less common in older cemeteries, established prior to the need to accommodate lawnmowers.
The custom of leaving mementos
for loved ones who have passed
has roots from pre-history on
through the Aztecs, the Pharaohs, and the Romans to modern times. Across continents and cultures, people have left shells, coins, pebbles, food and drink to mark their visit and their connection to the deceased. Besides these ancient items it is common to see toys, statuary, keys, photos, messages, flags, candles, and other trinkets whose meaning may be known only to the visitor.
In my experience, mementos are most often left in the early years after a loss, when grief is most acute. They are frequently left for children or young people by survivors marking a childhood or youth lost. Because processing grief is both so universal and so personal, we do our best at our historic cemetery to accommodate individuals' cultural and personal needs for leaving mementos. We know that families may have chosen a historic cemetery over a more formal lawn cemetery partly because there is more freedom to personalize their memorials. In terms of maintenance, we ask that visitors try to place items out of the obvious path of the mowers and we let people know that we will discard items that are broken or obviously deteriorated. Otherwise we try to treat the items with the same care and respect with which they were left.
While it may be easier for mowers, blowers and trimmers to not have to contend with mementos, our priority is the historical integrity of the custom and respect for the grieving process of our visitors. If your cemetery has policies that have worked for you regarding mementos, let us know.
To join the discussion on this issue, please visit our Facebook Page here or below.