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Repairing a gravestone no-one has visited for ~50 years

(25 Posts)
ForTheTape Tue 09-Apr-19 22:22:25

My DSis died around 55 years ago. My parents never visited the grave (AFAIK) because it was too painful for them. Then they moved away, life moved on. I'm next in line but I have no memory of her - I would have been nearly 4 when she died. Another DSis visited her grave about 5 years ago and then again this weekend with a DBro, who was not born when she died and knew very little about her.

The grave is in some disrepair apparently, a side plinth is broken and bits crumbling away. The lettering is not particularly clear either. DSis wants to repair the grave. I'm not convinced that we should.

Money is not an issue here - we could easily afford to repair the grave if we wanted to. I feel that if my parents wanted to visit and maintain the grave, they would have done. I've never visited it. She died of leukemia and was not a shameful secret or illegitimate. She was loved. No-one except my DSis is likely to visit the grave again - for me, she is not there.

I feel that if my father wanted to do something he would (he's still alive). I don't think it's our place. DSis is very 'woo', I'm not. I can't decide whether I'm being cold and heartless or not.

I think my view is that we should leave things be. AIBU?

polarpig Tue 09-Apr-19 22:32:13

I wouldn't say YABU because it's a very sensitive subject but I think if your DSis wants to have it repaired then that's fair enough if she's going to visit she's not going to want it to be in a poor state and it doesn't really make much difference to you.

flowers

Ilikethinkingupnewnames Tue 09-Apr-19 22:37:10

I think grief was dealt with differently back then. Stiff upper lip and not talked about. I think it would be lovely to restore (not replace) the grave

ForTheTape Tue 09-Apr-19 22:40:39

No that's true. I don't mind if she gets it repaired actually, if that's what she wants to do. The trouble is I feel I am going to be seen as being callous and uncaring. But I have no memory of this DSis and I feel that it's almost disrespectful to pretend that I do - as if we're doing it for appearances rather than out of any genuine love and affection.

MollyHuaCha Tue 09-Apr-19 22:43:59

Yes, of course it would be fine to either repair or replace the headstone. It's a really nice gesture.

If it's not possible (or just too expensive), maybe you could add a small engraved marble flower holder instead.

Alternatively, you could clean up the current gravestone and tidy or plant out the plot - or you could pay for someone to go these things for you, maybe.

Wishing you well whatever you decide.

ForTheTape Tue 09-Apr-19 22:49:35

You didn't read my OP did you Molly?

hibbledibble Tue 09-Apr-19 22:50:51

It sounds like a lovely idea to restore the grave. To do so wouldn't be disrespectful. I'm also not sure why you would say it is about appearances, I don't think anyone other than family will notice.

You don't have to remember this sister to care about her either, or care about her grave.

polarpig Tue 09-Apr-19 22:54:38

The trouble is I feel I am going to be seen as being callous and uncaring. But I have no memory of this DSis and I feel that it's almost disrespectful to pretend that I do - as if we're doing it for appearances rather than out of any genuine love and affection.

You don't have to voice your disagreement though, there is no need for you to say how you are feeling as it's your business really. I have two family graves that have almost certainly fallen into disrepair (I don't know where they are as the only people who knew are dead) but if somebody in the family wanted to repair them if they found out where they were then I'd keep quiet and let them get on with it.

steppemum Tue 09-Apr-19 22:59:04

I think the way to express it to your sister may be to use the fact she is a bit woo. Express it as something like, she isn't in a grave, I think of her as present in people's memories, so the grave site isn't important to me, as she isn't there.

If she wants to go ahead and repair it, that is up to her.

AlpacaPicnicc Tue 09-Apr-19 23:04:09

If your sister would like to repair and restore the grave then that's exactly what she should do.

Alsohuman Tue 09-Apr-19 23:05:05

My grandparents' grave is in an awful state. I don't really remember her at all and have few memories of him. I'm going to get it sorted out because it feels disrespectful to know how it is and do nothing. What possible harm could it do?

ForTheTape Tue 09-Apr-19 23:09:18

It's useful reading different perspectives tx.

I'm thinking I should say that if she wants to repair it I'm happy for her to go ahead. I will offer to contribute but I don't need a grave as a reminder of her very short life and she needs to run it past my Dad first.

(I'm trying out different responses...)

WearsABlackAndLongCoatWrong Tue 09-Apr-19 23:10:55

No, OP.

I don't think you have to feel obliged to take on responsibility for this, nor guilt if you choose not to.

YetAnotherThing Tue 09-Apr-19 23:19:40

I understand you- my grandma who i was very close to died about 20 yrs ago. I’ve never visited grave since. I just don’t feel like she’s there and your post makes me wonder what state her grave is in. If you sister tidies it up and is important to her, then I’d support it and say nothing.

bitheby Tue 09-Apr-19 23:24:15

I've never visited graves of any of my family save, funnily enough, some that died around 300 years ago.

People that died in my lifetime I carry with me. I don't need to go somewhere to remember them. Not sure what I would do in your situation. If money isn't an issue and it isn't too expensive then maybe contribute but it doesn't oblige you do anything more.

Genevieva Tue 09-Apr-19 23:42:50

As money isn't the issue I think you can say to your sister that, if she wants to organise it and if it is not too expensive, you would be willing to contribute towards the repair. However, out of courtesy to your father, you would like your sister to get his agreement first.

There is no purpose in telling her that you don't see the value in what she wants to do.

Chocolatepeanuts Tue 09-Apr-19 23:51:15

Will your parents be buried with your sister? If so the headstone will need sorted at some point, so sooner rather than later would be fine.

It's think its lovely of your sister to want to restore the grave, in fact my dad and his brothers did something similar for their grandparent's and little brother's grave. I think for your sister its about respecting your other sister's memory. Not that you don't, just that you both have different ways of going about it.

pallisers Wed 10-Apr-19 00:05:12

If your sister would like to repair and restore the grave then that's exactly what she should do.

I agree with this.

Graves mean more to some people than others. I could not imagine visiting my home town without going to my parents' grave. It wouldn't occur to my dh to visit his parent's grave.

strathmore Wed 10-Apr-19 00:48:51

I think as you are so closely related it is fine

I went with my DM to her family grave (we live 200 miles away) and someone had tended it. It freaked her out a little as no-one is left alive living in the UK

ForTheTape Wed 10-Apr-19 08:30:58

Genevieva
There is no purpose in telling her that you don't see the value in what she wants to do.

True. And it wouldn't be kind. If she finds value in it that's enough.

GarthFunkel Wed 10-Apr-19 08:35:34

Do your parents want to be buried with her? Who owns the plot? These are questions that you could start a conversation with your dad.

bobstersmum Wed 10-Apr-19 08:39:02

Some people feel strongly about blood ties etc and some don't. I understand you didn't know your dsis and that you feel you parents should have maintained the grave, and I agree. But I would personally feel sad that a very young sibling of mine was in a grave that no one visited and had been basically forgotten about. But I am a bit woo, and a lot sentimental.

BlackSatinDancer Wed 10-Apr-19 09:04:52

Let your DSIS arrange for the grave to be repaired as it clearly means something to her. I agree there is no need to tell her how you feel about it.

How old is your DSIS in relation to you? I had a brother who died aged 3 days when I was 5 years old. My 2 older DBs remember that 3 day period vividly many years later. He was cremated and his ashes strewn on the Gardens of Remembrance and when my DF died a few years back I had stones with memorial plaques put next to each other for them. I didn't 'know' him but I had an urge to do that.

I'm reasonably interested in family history and not long ago found the joint grave of my DH's maternal GPs. It's quite elaborate but the sides have come apart from the ends. We plan on repairing it when the weather is a bit better. We probably won't visit it (neither DH or I met them) but it clearly meant a lot to his GF to buy such a grand grave when his wife died so we want to keep it looking its best to honour them ifswim. It also has the secondary effect of making the cemetery look a bit tidier.

PinkHeart5914 Wed 10-Apr-19 09:09:00

Death was dealt with very differently years ago, not talked about and you just carried on.

This is your sisters grave and yes I’d let the grave be replaced, he’ll id even pay towards it as w are talking about your sisters grave!

For Christ sake never put the point a view you have here to anyone in real life, as it’s rather cold

woollyheart Wed 10-Apr-19 09:20:55

Not sure about this, but would you have to get permission from the 'owner' of the grave to do repairs? I was recently involved in a misunderstanding over a grave, and the cemetery wanted me to buy ownership of the grave in order for them to make changes (that I didn't want).

I don't think you are cold. If you want to visit a grave then you would want it to be cared for. If you don't want to regularly visit it, you don't have be feel guilty for not maintaining something that other people put in place. Most graves become abandoned as people who knew them die and time goes by.

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