Cemetery Etiquette

Vandals also make cemeteries unsafe for visitors. Watch where you walk, and keep children by your side.

Vandals also make cemeteries unsafe for visitors. Watch where you walk, and keep children by your side.

Many people may avoid graveyards, as the reminder of death is an unpleasant experience for them. But, other folks don’t mind littering, having parties or otherwise defacing or disrespecting a piece of land that – for all extents and purposes – belongs to the deceased who are buried on that property or to their families. Since graveyard etiquette is not taught in schools, we thought we’d offer some guidelines for your edification.

  • Obey all rules and regulations posted by any given cemetery. Those guidelines are posted not only for etiquette’s sake, but for your safety as well.
  • Once again, your safety is of utmost concern when you remain in cemeteries past visitation hours. Just don’t do it.
  • Think about a cemetery as you would a home – don’t bring your pets, don’t litter and keep your voice at a respectable tone. If you must bring pets, keep that pet on a leash and clean up after it.
  • With that said, if you see litter on the ground and you don’t fear the content, pick it up and throw it in the trash.
  • If you encounter people in the cemetery, presume that they’re in that cemetery to pay respects to deceased loved ones. Those individuals may be distraught and they may not pay attention to traffic; therefore, it is wise to watch for people on foot to make sure you do not injure them if you are in a car.
  • Stay on roadways and use parking spaces rather than drive or park on grass.
  • If you must bring children to the cemetery, keep them away from monuments and tombstones. Part of this restraint is out of respect for the deceased and the families of the deceased. But, in addition, many tombstones may be unsafe as they may be old or unstable.
  • Although cemeteries are in the open, voices and cigarette smoke tends to travel in these spaces. Speak softly and avoid smoking, especially if a funeral is in session. Additionally, turn off your cell phone to avoid disrupting any mourners.
  • Finally, avoid talking to strangers in cemeteries. While mourners may be present, other people such as researchers also might be working. Although they are not mourners, they have learned not to talk with strangers in cemeteries. If they are strangers to you, then you are a stranger to them as well.
  • Watch where you walk – one reason why it may be inappropriate to walk on a grave is the unevenness presented by ground sinks and upheaving that occurs on many gravesites. One wrong move and you could injure yourself. Use paths whenever possible.

Most of the guidelines above have been suggested, as they appeal to the safety of anyone who visits a cemetery. Additionally, a cemetery is filled with property that is owned by others. You would no more enter a property on the street to deface it without worry of being caught – and, the same rules apply to any cemetery.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.