Permanent Memorialization: How long is “Permanent”?




How long is “Permanent”?  That is a question that has never been answered, but in many cases you will find out that “permanent” is not really “permanent”.


There is an interesting dilemma going on in Surrey British Columbia, Canada, right now.  According to this article, a popular pet cemetery is about to be repositioned into a new housing development.  According to the article a sign for the proposed new development has been erected on a plot of land that contains the remains of over 700 animals from as far back as the 1950’s.

And, at least some people familiar with the cemetery believe that there are also human cremation remains buried in the cemetery.


According to the article, Turnberry Developments, which has owned the property for 30 years “has investigated if there are human remains on this property.  None were discovered, nor did (they) find any urns containing ashes.”


The company also said it “searched vital statistics and contacted crematoriums and funeral homes to find the next of kin and ask for their guidance in the matter.”


Here’s another article on the situation.  When viewing the articles you will notice that they both have television video news stories about the situation also.


A volunteer who takes care of the cemetery thinks the land should be protected.  “It’s sacred ground” said David Corrin.  “I think it should be preserved as a memorial, sacred ground. Especially since there’s some old-growth original cedar trees that have been here for at least 200 to 300 years.”


Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

Funeral Director Daily take:  This is certainly an interesting dilemma.  Obviously, this was once a vacant lot that the owners at the time let community members bury their pets on.  There seems to be no contractual obligations on either side. . . . but what about the moral and ethical ramifications?  And, does (possibly) having cremated remains on the property make a difference?


While this is no small situation to families that may have pets buried in this cemetery, the thought process brings up even larger and, possibly more consequential, potential situations.  For instance, what will happen to churches that have cremation memorial niche walls or funeral homes that have memorial niche walls in them at the time when those properties become obsolete for their present functions and are put up for sale or re-purposed?


Outside of some type of contractual situation that has been agreed upon, I think most families think the remains that they inurned in those places expect the remains to be there permanently.  What is the process if the future holds a demolition or some other change to that facility?


Are these problems waiting to happen?


Related Article —  “Should we be re-using Graves?”  Poppy’s – A fresh approach to Funerals – Great Britain


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