In my opinion, one of the most frequent complaints at a cemetery is that flowers or decoration have been moved from a loved one’s grave. Though it takes place more frequently in the warmer weather months, the complaint is registered even in winter.
Nothing can be more upsetting than decorating a loved one’s grave one day, and on the next visit discover that something, if not everything is missing. Grief is hard enough to experience without dealing with theft. For this reason, the family registering the complaint is not happy.
Each cemetery has its own rules and regulations for decoration. As part of cemetery selection, a copy of those regulations should be requested. All cemeteries should be cooperative whenever a family member requests one. I know that with every follow up to a burial that I handle I give the family a copy of our regulations. Sometimes, violation of those regulations can mean the cemetery will remove the decorations in question. Each cemetery has its own procedures for dealing with violations so if you have a question, contact the cemetery for clarification. Usually a cemetery clean-off occurs twice a year; at the end of fall, and at the end of winter. These times can mean that all decorations will be removed to start new with the season. Consult the cemetery office when you have a question.
There are some times that the cemetery did not do the removal. Strong storms can be a culprit, or even just a breezy day can take flowers or decorations away from the grave and move them down the row several spaces or even farther. If the decorations are not marked, the cemetery does not know where to replace the items, so they will generally remove them in order to keep the cemetery looking beautiful.
Unfortunately, there are more times than not that the cemetery did not do the removal. There are times that people remove the decorations. Some families have spoken to me that there flowers were moved to another grave site. I have seen some people selling flowers in flea markets that are not too forthcoming as to where they got the items they are selling, which leads me to believe that they may be removing the items for resale. And I have also heard of times that other family members remove the items out of spite. Each of these possibilities all seem abhorrent to me. What type of person does not respect the grave site enough to do such a thing?
In conclusion, I will say what I tell a number of my families that have this complaint. Please do not decorate with anything that you cannot afford to lose. There are people that will take them with no regard for where they are located. The cemetery tries to prevent theft in every way they can, but there is no way for the staff to be everywhere all the time, or for the staff to be familiar with everyone who decorates. And please be very familiar with the decorating regulations.