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To feel uncomfortable with the increase in roadside memorials?

(111 Posts)
BLEEPyouYOUbleepingBLEEP Fri 06-Nov-09 12:33:39

Just come back from hols in Greece, and it's made me realise just how polite and good the roads and drivers are!!

The drivers are maniacs there, the roads are crap and there are tons of mopeds weaving in and out with the drivers with no helmets on.

At the sides of almost every road are tons and tons of roadside memorials and I personally felt really uncomfortable with them.

I understand why the family of someone killed on the road would want to commemorate their loved one, and warn others of the dangers (which it obviously doesn't do in Greece cos they're still driving like idiots) but how many memorials are too many?

In the UK flowers placed at the scene just after the event seem respectful, but is this OK if it turns into a shrine? Or if people start putting up ghost bikes?

LaurieScaryCake Fri 06-Nov-09 12:36:12

Are you sure they are anything to do with driving accidents. hmm

There are shrines everywhere in Greece at the roadside.

kreecherlivesupstairs Fri 06-Nov-09 12:36:57

Obviously I can't comment on the UK, we live in Switzerland, but before we left I had noticed a huge increase the the number of memorials and the bizarre nature of what was being left. A group of young people were killed in our road and amongs the usual teddies and football scarves were six cans of lager. This was particularly inappropriate as the driver of the car was trolleyed when he killed the others.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 06-Nov-09 12:40:35

I don't have a problem with them - if they mean something to the bereaved then where's the harm? Unless of course they distract drivers at what may be a a black spot.

Geocentric Fri 06-Nov-09 12:42:45

Lots of them here in Brazil. Wooden crosses on motorways, small shrines... Always makes me sad but it is also a good warning.

seaglass Fri 06-Nov-09 12:45:41

I'm not sure they are shrines to mark a road accident in Greece - there were loads about over 20 years ago in places where only donkeys travel. I'm sure they're down to the orthodox religion loving Greeks.

In this country, I don't see it as a problem, because it does give some comfort to family/friends who have lost a loved one.

Besom Fri 06-Nov-09 12:46:31

I have never thought those things in Greece (also common in Southern Italy) were anything to do with road traffic accidents. Are they? I have no problem with them either way.

My brother is visiting from New Zealand where he has lived for a long time and he said he finds us much more polite as drivers in the UK (not necessarily in any other way) despite the fact that it's much busier here.

BLEEPyouYOUbleepingBLEEP Fri 06-Nov-09 12:47:28

Laurie, this is from the Driving in Crete and Greece website

'A common sight in Crete are the small metal or stone constructions at the sides of the roads, often in the form of a miniature church. These are memorials for people killed in a car accident and they are located at the exact spot where the accident occurred.
They are constructed by the family of the deceased and inside there is usually a photo together with some religious objects. The families visit them often, clean and maintain them and light the candles. They exist in all different kinds of shapes and materials used.'

Some of the mountain roads they're on have a sheer drop the other side, so nobody would be there for any other reason.

Geocentric Fri 06-Nov-09 12:48:02

The ones over here are definitely road accidents. Proper saint shrines are in obvious places (by waterfalls or rivers, on hilltops..)

dweezle Fri 06-Nov-09 12:55:34

Dislike them. We live in a town which has a notorious A road leading through it, and there is a fatal accident most months, usually involving young men driving too fast, or drunk.

The memorials seem to be perpetuated by school/college friends of the victims, who portray the victim as some sort of James Dean, live fast die young hero. It doesn't appear to warn anyone of anything.

The accidents usually happen on sharp bends, so it's dangerous for people to stop/walk there to lay flowers etc.

This seems to be a fairly modern phenomenon.

Jamieandhismagictorch Fri 06-Nov-09 12:59:20

... or shootings, round here Geocentric sad.

I imagine that for some people they are a more fitting place to place flowers. In a way makes more sense to mark the spot where a person died, than in a graveyard.

They also act as a warning in cases of road accidents. I don't have a problem with it.

Jamieandhismagictorch Fri 06-Nov-09 13:02:12

That's interesting dweezle - you think there is a sort of weird celebrity element to it ? I used to live near Barnes Common, where people used to lay flowers beside the tree where Marc Bolan's car crashed.

BLEEPyouYOUbleepingBLEEP Fri 06-Nov-09 13:05:14

Nobody likes to be reminded of their own mortality, it must be awful for anyone who has something like this right outside where they live. It's not their fault what's happened, and they can't feel able to object to it, who wants to upset a grieving family??

To take memorials out of a graveyard or cemetery is such a public thing, especially as we usually consider grief so private in the UK.

I'm not some heartless bitch who can't understand why a family wants to do this, but people die in all sorts of places all the time, does that make the person being commemorated more important than any other person dying? If it does, then everyone should be commemorated in this way if they die in public? Surely not.

Jamieandhismagictorch Fri 06-Nov-09 13:09:15

Bleep - but not every family will want to do this, and the number of flowers etc dwindles year by year normally.

holdingittogether Fri 06-Nov-09 13:10:12

I understand why someone might want to lay flowers at the road side but I think it is more of a distraction to drivers and therefore maybe a bit dangerous. Imagine a road notorious for accidents, blind bends etc and then add in people slowing down to look at memorials or taking their eyes off the road to look at flowers, teddies and large photographs which are often placed there. As I said I can understand why people want to do it just don't think it is the safest thing to do. People who visit to lay flowers on foot would be putting themselves in danger too.

Lilymaid Fri 06-Nov-09 13:12:51

There are several shrines to road accident victims (mainly young people) along our local A road through a country area and some have been there for more than 10 years. I haven't noticed many other roads with as many shrines.

BLEEPyouYOUbleepingBLEEP Fri 06-Nov-09 13:20:02

Jamie, a friend of mine was killed at the side of a road about 6 years ago, and all that's left is the sellotape on the lamppost he hit. I can look at the sellotape and remember, alright, it's not as nice as looking at flowers, but it's not 'intruding' on anyone else.

On the other hand, some people have such pain coming to terms with their loss that to not tend the memorial would be tantamount to saying they're 'over' the death, which of course they aren't.

Sunshinemummy Fri 06-Nov-09 13:23:11

A friend of mine was killed on a bike in Hackney last year and there is a ghost bike in his memory at the spot. Personally I think it's a fitting memorial to him and am glad it's there.

BLEEPyouYOUbleepingBLEEP Fri 06-Nov-09 13:27:13

Sunshine, how would it make you feel, if you don't mind me asking, if other people felt they objected to the bike being there? Would you feel it was a snub against the grief you are feeling for your friend and his memory, or would you feel they have a point and that the bike should perhaps only be there for a certain length of time. Although I'm not sure how you could set a time limit for something like that, or saying you should.

racmac Fri 06-Nov-09 13:36:32

Im always in 2 minds on this one - I can understand family/friends wanting to leave somethingto remember

BUT a few years ago a young girl was killed when car she was in crashed into someones wall at the front of a house. Flowers and teddies were laid there and have been every year since - now its the people that live there that i feel bad for - they werent related/friends of the girl and it just makes me feel slightly uncomfortable for them - do they have to get rid of the flowers i dont know?

Blondeshavemorefun Fri 06-Nov-09 13:48:19

its nice to respect that someone has died but it must be annoying hard for the person who lives there if by a house

there is a road near me that always has accidents and very rare for there not to have flowers there from one of the many accidents there sad

Sunshinemummy Fri 06-Nov-09 13:50:09

Bleep I'm not sure I can answer your question because my feelings about it are tied up in something so personal. It's hard for me to be objective about it I'm afraid. I can kind of understand re. if it was on a wall at the front of a house as per ramac's post but it's tied to the railing at the junction of a busy London street - but then if he had been killed somewhere more residential I probably would still have supported the idea of the ghost bike as a memorial. I'm sorry I'm not really making much sense - it's too personal really.

BLEEPyouYOUbleepingBLEEP Fri 06-Nov-09 14:01:33

That does make sense sunshine, thanks for answering.

What you're really saying is that it's such an emotional trauma for grieving family and friends that they're perhaps not thinking as they usually do. But with the amount of cars and subsequently deaths on the roads increasing, should that emotion dictate how roads are in this country? Especially with the huge amount of road furniture and signs there are at the min, not implying that these are any kind of road furniture.

Squishabelle Fri 06-Nov-09 14:03:37

Sorry but much as I understand relatives/friends wanting to do this, I really do not agree with them. We have one near us on a very busy dual carriageway and the people laying the flowers MUST be risking their own lives everytime they go to place flowers etc. I also think it distracts drivers.

blushes Fri 06-Nov-09 14:12:01

Before you've lost somebody in a tragic way, you never know what will bring you comfort. I speak from experience- though I haven't created one of these memorials, I can understand why people do it, and I've certainly made other public displays of remembrance for the loved one I lost.

In a society where personal grief is pushed to the side (once other people/the press have had their slice of your tragedy and are able to move on smoothly), the need to maintain public recognition for your loved one- and yes, maybe your grief- can be very strong. You fear that your loved one will be fforgotten.

I agree that some of the people on the periphery of the deceased person's life might be jumping on the bandwagon slightly- treating them as James Dean characters or whatever. That always happens with a tragedy and they drift away eventually.

But it's also very likely that creating these memorials brings great solace to bereaved families. And to me, this must outweigh the annoyance/discomfort that others feel at seeing the memorials.

So little is done to support bereaved families. So they find ways to help themselves, and this is one of them.

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