Thursday, August 18, 2016

Please Respect the Grieving

by Giselle Renarde

I wish I'd written this post when I was in a bad mood, because writing it now is going to destroy my good mood and I thoroughly enjoy a good mood.

As I've mentioned before, I grew up in an impoverished neighbourhood. Now I live in an affluent neighbourhood. Does that mean I'm rich? HAHAHA no. It means I moved here when the rental market was in the crapper. I got lucky.

When you transition from an area populated by poor people to one that's populated by rich people (many of them "old money"), you notice a lot of behavioural differences. I've lived here 12 years and I'm still shocked, constantly, by the arrogance and entitlement I see around me. I hope I'll always be shocked by it, because the moment I don't notice it I've become ONE OF THEM, god help me.

It's one thing for me to say people around here don't think rules apply to them--that doesn't exactly paint a picture. Let me paint you a picture. Let me use the local cemetery as my canvas.

I'm not a religious person (I'm not even a person with a religion), but I do believe we have a social responsibility to preserve the sanctity of spaces that possess a spiritual importance to a great many people.

The cemetery in my neighbourhood has a history of being used as somewhat of a public space, so you're going to find people jogging, cycling, (unicycling, practicing the bagpipes) along the pathways. I'm usually there to walk, although I often stop and say hello to a family friend whose memorial plaque is there.

For the first 130 years of this cemetery's existence, no dogs were permitted on the property. I need to restrain myself because I could easily rant about the exasperatingly entitled nature of the dog owners in my neighbourhood (who truly believe leash laws don't apply to their dogs), but despite their socio-economic heft I never imagined they'd get the cemetery to back down and changed the dog policy. As it now stands, leashed dogs are permitted within the grounds on paved pathways only.

Do you think that stops people from letting their dogs loose like this is some giant off-leash paradise? Or leading their pooches directly to convenient headstones and ENCOURAGING their pets to piss and shit all over graves?

The first time I witnessed this, I almost threw up. I was scandalized by the sheer disregard for what a final resting place represents--not just to the spirit or soul of the departed (if applicable--I don't know what goes on after death), but to the spirit AND the soul of the cemetery itself, not to mention the memory of that individual and the regard their living friends and family members still hold for them.

Is it really too much to ask people not to allow (much less encourage!) their dogs to shit on people's graves? Really?

I'm describing only the beginnings of the bad behaviour I see. A couple weeks ago it was a pair of fancy-ass cyclists in fancy-ass cycling outfits that probably cost more than I pay in rent. We're not talking about kids, here. Teenagers get a bad rap, but I don't want you thinking these were young people. The were grown-ass adults.

Anyway, I guess they're ready for a break so they hop off their bikes, smoke some pot and crank the tunes to full-blast on their awful tinny radio--all while leaning against a sign that reads: QUIET ZONE. PLEASE RESPECT THE GRIEVING.

I could go on. I could tell you about the jogger who spotted the lush green grass on one grave and decided that was the perfect place to take off his shirt and do a bunch of sit-ups. Lord Almighty, I apologize profusely any time I'm forced to step anywhere near someone's grave. Yes, I apologize to their spirit or soul or whatever it may be--out of respect. I can't imagine being the kind of person who does a goddamn exercise routine on someone's grave. You're not at the gym, asshole! This is a fucking cemetery!

Now I feel really complainy. I just see so much entitlement every time I leave the house (or look out my window) and I have this policy of being non-confrontational at the cemetery. My sisters call me a New Yorker because I'm always yelling at people on the street (it's not as crazy as it sounds--they're usually trying to run me over with their cars). I get very argumentative when I see people who lack the fundamentals of respect, but NOT losing my shit on strangers is my way of respecting the grieving.

Trust me, it ain't easy.


  1. And...poof! There goes your good mood. Hope it comes back soon.

    Momma and I live in arguably the richest county in the country, so we know the syndrome. Maybe not this neighborhood, (where we've lived for 35 years) but still, we could never afford to buy here now. More in my post next Wed.

  2. I would go absolutely ballistic if I saw this kind of behavior, Giselle.

    What you should do is film them doing this incredibly disrespectful and presumably illegal stuff. Then share the video on Facebook.

    Of course, you should do this anonymously. Because people like that can buy the justice system and do you so real damage.

  3. OMG that's revolting. Absolutely do what Lisabet suggests.

  4. Does anybody where you are read Letters to the Editor in a local newspaper? Sounds like something you might be able to interest a journalist in researching and publicizing. You Tube gets much more exposure, but for local issues local newspapers might work better. At least it would where I live, in an area of college towns and one small city, but I'm sure things work differently in a major city.

  5. I second or third or fourth what everyone else here has advised you to do, Giselle. We live in an age when anything that happens in public can be recorded for all time and for the whole world to see. I bet a little public shame would help some people change their behaviour.

  6. Wooooow. I started out in a give-people-the-benefit-of-the-doubt mode, but by the time you got to the dogs I was upset right there with you. I keep picturing going to visit a relative and seeing someone in the midst of doing this. I like the letter to the editor idea. Hope it helped a bit to get this off your chest, anyway.

  7. While I personally feel that cemeteries are a waste of grass and good, fertile land, I would never presume to tell people what to do with the remains of their loved ones. Grieving is hard enough without having to explain yourself to some stranger. So the idea of being so totally disrespectful to the departed, and to those who visit the cemeteries because they miss their loved ones, is unconscionable. Those people should be reported, anonymously if you feel the need, to the people in charge of the cemetery.


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