I don't know if anyone would be able to help but....

(24 Posts)
McDreamy Thu 25-Mar-10 15:29:16

....as some of you may know my Nan died on Tuesday sad. I have been spending time with my mum yesterday and today trying to organise a funeral and burial for her.

My Grandad died in 1994 and my Nan bought a double grave for him and eventually her to be buried in. A headstone was put up with space for her details as and when the time came.

In the meantime my Grandad's sister died in Australia. She never liked living there and her daughter asked my mum and Nan if they could bring her back and bury her remains (she was cremated) with my Grandad. My Nan and mum looked into this and permission to bring her home was granted.

My mum and Nan attended a short grave side service and Grandad's sister was laid to rest with him. Mum and Nan were told to make sure they told the undertaker that she was also in the grave when the site was needed again.

This we did this morning only to be told that because there are now human remains "in the way" they cannot use the plot for another burial. The only way Nan can join Grandad is if she is cremated but as a Roman Catholic this would be against her wishes. My mum is gutted and I just want to find out if this is really true, can we appeal? Mum and Nan were either told incorrect advice at the point they added Grandad's sister to the grave or legislation has changed.

Just not sure where to start looking for help and advice or if it is even worth it. sad

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Scrudd Thu 25-Mar-10 15:33:13

Am I right in thinking that your great aunt's ashes are buried in the double plot (with just one body in it so far) and now they're saying you can't put another coffin in there?

That seems a bit strange. My dad was buried in a coffin, and we buried my mum's ashes with him when she died. We didn't bury the urn thing, but just dug a hole and poured the ashes in.

We did get permission to do it, but it was all very informal. I'd be absolutely amazed if they now told us we couldn't use the second space in the double grave!

McDreamy Thu 25-Mar-10 15:35:03

That's exactly it Scrudd - sorry my version was a bit long winded blush

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mjinhiding Thu 25-Mar-10 15:36:26

Message withdrawn

McDreamy Thu 25-Mar-10 15:40:32

The Catholic Priest is as surprised as us at this. Grandad is buried in a CofE graveyard so he hasn't any authority there IYKWIM.

Nan would very against cremation for her. She was incredibly traditional and my mum is very keen to honour that. I think worse case scenario would be a separate grave in the same graveyard as Grandad but it's not what she wanted.

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Scrudd Thu 25-Mar-10 15:44:17

I actually doubt we'll ever want to use the space for a second in the double plot, in our case. Unless of course we used it to house my mum's second husband, LOL! (probably not a good idea wink )

Did you bury your great aunt's ashes in an urn? I ask because surely once ashes have been buried they just become part of the soil given a relatively small amount of time! Even if they were in an urn, it wouldn't be the same as disturbing a coffin.

If that rule is true, that you can't disturb buried ashes, how come they're reusing old victorian graves? They must come across a fair few remains in the process of clearing them shock

PlumBumMum Thu 25-Mar-10 15:44:52

It does sound very strange
who told you this the funeral directors or the actual grave yard?

Hopefully it is a mix up, surely you can appeal in someway on the grounds
that this was not made clear to you in the first place as your nan would never have allowed it if she had known she wouldn't be able to be buried with her husband

so sorry McDreamy I'm sure this is the last thing you need to worry about sad

McDreamy Thu 25-Mar-10 15:47:54

Exactly Plum my Nan would never have agreed to it if she knew this was to be the outcome.

It was the Undertaker that highlighted the possible problem this morning, she then checked with the parish office who confirmed that it would not be possible to bury Nan there.

I think my great Aunt is in a casket but I cannot be sure, would have to check with my mum.

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McDreamy Thu 25-Mar-10 15:48:32

Scrudd - that was my dad's point this morning.

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McDreamy Thu 25-Mar-10 15:50:37

Who is "in charge" of the graveyard? Is it the church? The Council? Can they make their own rules and regs locally?

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sausagepastie Thu 25-Mar-10 15:52:50

Really so sorry to hear this.

If only you could go there in the middle of the night and dig the hole yourselves, put in the coffin and fill it up again...seems ridiculous other people can tell you what to do over this sad

Scrudd Thu 25-Mar-10 15:59:28

I doubt your great aunt was in a casket (coffin) if she was cremated!

I'm sorry it's such an upsetting pain in the arse though xx

Obviously I never knew your nan, but I doubt she'd be angry with you if you have to put her in a different plot because of the red tape. As long as you do your best smile

uglymugly Thu 25-Mar-10 16:11:44

Can your Mum absolutely identify where your great-aunt's ashes were buried? If so, and a full burial could be possible without disturbing those ashes, it might be worth contacting the vicar/rector again. If not, and your great-aunt's remains were in a container, it might be possible to get legal permission (called a faculty) to temporarily remove those remains in order for your nan to be buried, and then your great-aunt's ashes to be replaced in the burial plot.

If the vicar in charge of the graveyard isn't sure of what would be possible, you could contact the Diocesan Registrar of the Diocese (the Registrar is a solicitor who oversees the legal aspects of the Diocese and advises the Bishop).

McDreamy Thu 25-Mar-10 16:22:31

Of course she's not in a casket blush, sorry getting my words muddled up, she was cremated, she is in a urn, today we have been choosing a casket for my Nan to be buried in! My head is all over the place.

Thanks for your thoughts. I think I might contact the Vicar again to ask if this is an absolute NO or if there are ways around it like Uglymugly suggests.

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FabIsGettingThere Thu 25-Mar-10 16:42:58

I am going to try and find out for you but for now, what do they mean human remains in the way? What is the difference with the grave containing a couple and then their child or a future spouse dying at a later date?

McDreamy Thu 25-Mar-10 16:47:16

I think they mean that in order to get Nan in her coffin into the grave with Grandad they would have to remove or move my Great Aunt's Urn out of the way which they say they are not allowed to do.

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McDreamy Thu 25-Mar-10 16:47:45

Fab you are Fab wink thanks x

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mjinhiding Thu 25-Mar-10 16:56:38

Message withdrawn

uglymugly Thu 25-Mar-10 17:01:07

Another couple of thoughts: most parishes have a plan of the churchyard showing where burials have taken place, and it might be that when your great-aunt's ashes were interred a note was made on the plan. I would have thought that with a double plot reserved specifically for your Grandad and your Nan, then your great-aunt's cremated remains should have been interred so as not to prevent your Nan's burial.

If your great-aunt's remains would need to be removed for the burial to take place, the local vicar can't give permission for that, it would have to be done by application for and approval of a faculty.

You can find the name and contact details of the Registrar for the Diocese here: www.diocesanregistry.co.uk/.

Some information about the laws concerning Church of England churchyards can be found here: www.peterboroughdiocesanregistry.co.uk/churchyards.html
Those laws cover all Church of England churchyards, not just Peterborough.

FabIsGettingThere Thu 25-Mar-10 17:02:07

I haven't found an answer yet to if a coffin can be buried on top of another coffin and an ashes urn but I did find this wrt cremation. I know it isn't what your Nan wanted but it might be of interest.

Axctually that reminds me, my Nana converted to Catholicism once my Grandad was very ill and died and she was cremated iirc.

"For centuries, Roman Catholics were taught that cremation is against Canon Law. In 1963, however, the Holy Office (the forerunner of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office responsible for the rules and regulations of the Roman Catholic faith), stated that cremation is permitted for Catholics. For the next two decades, the church issued few statements on the topic, but always reinforced certain laws related to cremation. In 1997, Rome approved an addition to the Rite of Christian Funerals and stated that cremation is acceptable, but only when done after the funeral Mass or liturgy is complete."

An urn is so small though. Could the urn be placed in your Nan's coffin?

uglymugly Thu 25-Mar-10 17:05:41

I should perhaps mention that many, many years ago I worked as secretary to a Diocesan Registrar, so I'm not up-to-date with things, but I don't imagine the legislation has changed much since then.

McDreamy Thu 25-Mar-10 17:09:56

Thank you Uglymugly smile

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PlumBumMum Thu 25-Mar-10 17:20:51

Fab its because an urn with ashes, I presume is not put down as deep as a coffin so they have to dig past it iyswim,

although uglymugly knows her stuff, hope you get sorted McD

McDreamy Tue 30-Mar-10 08:19:57

Just to let you know that thanks to your advice we kept plugging away at this. We contacted the Diocese and after much deliberation they got back to us yesterday and told us that we now CAN use Grandad's grave for Nan smile

Needless to say the whole family (esp my mum) has breathed and huge sigh of relief. Thank you for you advice x

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