Sunday, December 16, 2012

Decorations, The Good and the Bad

Graveside decorations have become a customary way to help celebrate the life of a loved one now gone. Ranging from the standard flowers to new solar lights, it is not uncommon to find at least one type of decoration on each headstone. And I will be one to say that decorations really do help make a rather cold headstone feel warm and vibrant. However, I have also come across many that have taken the decorations too far, and have gone overboard, or have chosen decorations that do not last in the elements. I will go over some of the most popular decorations, and give my experience in the proper way to celebrate a life with them.


Flowers have always been the favorite way to help decorate a grave site. Originally using live cut flowers, the artificial flower has now become the most popular way to bring color to a headstone. Ranging in colors and arrangements, they really are hard to beat. However, there are some guidelines that one should follow if they chose to use artificial flowers. Proper anchorage is a must for any flowers.  I can remember one night just before Memorial Day brought on strong winds that scattered flowers all around the cemetery. Most of the wind blown flowers were those circular arrangements attached to Styrofoam with a wire tripod to hold them in place. I would recommend if you were to go with these Styrofoam arrangements, that a proper metal or wood stake be used instead of the wire stand. Plastic vases also need some type of extra support since the cheap plastic stake typically breaks. Flowers in permanent vases are also susceptible to wind, and should be anchored using sand, gravel or even chicken wire stuffed into the vase. The second rule to follow is proper placement. I realize that the flowers look their best if directly in front of the grave, however, the location can cause problems for the maintenance crew. Mowing around flower arrangements can become tedious, and trimming can be a nightmare.  Last year alone we picked up 2 truck loads of artificial flowers that were left behind. It would be impossible to move each flower arrangement to weed eat around the headstones. So before you place your flowers, think about what the grave site will look like after a few weeks of growth.

Porcelain Figurines

Porcelain figures come in all shapes and sizes these days. From angels to small frogs, I have seen many of them as I drive past on a mower. These figurines offer a way to help show visitors what meant the most to them, whether it be a pet or a religious symbol. However, I have begun to notice a problem with these porcelain figurines, after they sit in the sun for some time they are extremely brittle.  The smallest touch can shatter the figurine and leave an angel without its wings.  The best way to protect these from accidental damage is to have them set on the stones themselves without any over hang and attached with an adhesive strip or glue. 

Solar Lights

Drive by the cemetery just after dusk, and the cemetery seems to glow like a town in the distance.  Solar lights have become more affordable and popular over the last few years, and now dot most cemeteries.  Unfortunately, the quality has suffered with the price drop.  Cheap plastics and bad designs make them easy targets for mowers and trimmers.  My advise, buy quality lights made of metal or thick plastic.  If not, location is the key.  Placing them in vases or on the sides of the headstones is the best way to ensure they will last. 

I am by no means a hater of decorations, but I do get tired of picking up wind blown flowers and seeing the hundreds of dollars worth of decorations being thrown away because we have no clue where they came from.  A tip if you are still afraid that the decorations will blow away, mark them with the name of the grave.  A simple piece of tape around the bottom of a flower can ensure that we can get it back to its rightful owner.  With a little planning, decorations can be made to last.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Digital Directory Update

I figure it is about time to give everyone a current update on our goal to purchase the digital directory. As of January, we currently have received $5,000 dollars in donations, all within the community. We have been blessed with a good response from the people of Oberlin, all of who think that the directory is a great starting point to the improvement to our cemetery. I would like to say a huge thank you to all that have donated so far. But we are still far from our goal of $20,000. Now that the holiday seasons are over, we intend to hit it hard again, visiting with clubs, talking with the paper, and getting the word spread to the community. We have also tossed around a few fund raising ideas that I would keep your eye out for. Again, I would like to say thank you to all of those who are here to support our community.