Culture clash at San Jacinto Valley Cemetery

New rules address complaints but ignite further controversy

Photo by Robin Underwood / The Valley Chronicle
Colorful decorations adorn the headstone on the grave of Daniel Ramirez who was murdered in 2016.

■ Robin Underwood / Reporter

Depending on religious and ethnic customs, the ways in which we grieve can be dramatically different when mourning the loss of a loved one.
San Jacinto Valley Cemetery has had the difficult task of navigating between such customs. It has tried to create standards that suit everyone. Even in light of the new rules and regulations, complaints continue.
Within the past two months, a family who had its mother’s ashes placed on the cemetery grounds had written the cemetery complaining about its discomfort when visiting the resting place of her remains in part due to the loud – some would say boisterous – activity of visitors holding “picnics with large numbers of people, loud music and food” over extended periods of time. The complaining family (who wished to remain anonymous) claimed to have visited the grave of their deceased relative on numerous occasions and was repeatedly confronted by the same behavior. They said they no longer felt welcome there, even out of place. The irritation was so great they eventually had their mother’s ashes relocated to another cemetery nearby.
Now, new rules and regulations have been put in place by the cemetery administration to help mitigate these complaints. However, a whole new controversy has erupted.
Other plot owners are claiming that such a change in rules has added to their emotional and psychological trauma, stating that their road to grieving and mourning has been closed down. They say the rules have caused them to become depressed, which just adds to the depression they feel at the loss of their loved ones.
The new rules ban picnic activities, lavish decorations, and what some would call, nontraditional grieving customs. The rules minimize the number of hours allowed to be on site, restrict areas, and standardize containers in which flowers can be placed. They even restrict where chairs can be set out during visits. After the rules were made public, a group of plot owners joined together at the offices of the cemetery management to make their complaints known.
Plot owners are now trying to adapt, trying to keep to the new rules and still figure out ways to express their grief at their loved ones’ loss. Pebbles Morene, a mother whose son was killed by a murderer, and who belongs to a group calling itself Homicide Victims Seeking Justice, started creating and making available to others homemade 8-inch unbreakable containers. These vases are lined with cement that stand tall with brightly colored ribbons that drape to the ground. Installed with solar lightning and encased with laminated pictures of their loved ones on the inside of the container, they can hold various types of flowers.
Moreno had placed one these decorative containers on her son’s grave over the weekend, hoping the new regulations will allow such items to be left. She wants to be sure they’re okay before making dozens of others and having them appear across the entire San Jacinto Valley Cemetery.
Undoubtedly, the various cultures will learn to respect and accept each others’ traditions on how one must acknowledge the difficult realization of a loved one’s loss knowing that we’re all human and we all suffer pain at the loss of someone who means everything to us.

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