Letter to the Editor

When is enough, enough?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I am compelled to once again turn to the method of an editorial to express my disappointment in the management protocol with regards to the Buena Vista Memorial Cemetery... certainly lacking compassion for the bereaved. Our mom, Alyce Nielson, passed away in early June. With her funeral arrangements, we also took care of the arrangements to have the bronze plaque with her date of death ordered, to be installed on our parents' gravestone. The funeral home handled all of the services, including these details for us. They drove to the cemetery to secure the size of the plaque, ordered it, and then drove to the cemetery to install it upon arrival. Since our mom had moved to the Spirit Lake area eight years ago, the funeral home staff was driving back and forth from Spirit Lake to Storm Lake to accomplish this - all at no extra charge. They explained that it was all part of their services. Now that's compassion! Recently, I drove to the cemetery to check on the plaque, but it was not there. We were under the understanding that it should be, so called the funeral home to check if there had been a misunderstanding. We validated that they had received the plaque and installed it, just as we thought, and were puzzled when we informed them that it was NOT on the gravestone. They assured our family that they had installed it and would look into our situation closer.

They contacted the caretaker. With their initial call, they were told that no plaque had ever been on the gravestone and that she knew nothing about it. A second phone call was made and she then admitted that she had removed the plaque because she, and she alone, was the only one that could install the plaque (two Phillips screws hold it in place), and at a cost of $214. We were told the plaque would only be replaced if our family paid a $100 installation fee. Interestingly, the funeral home had only charged us $75 for the cost of the plaque complete with their installation.

All of the bronze Veteran's markers were removed and thrown on the trash pile at this cemetery several years back. I wish that someone could help make the point that a cemetery is in the business of offering compassion and support to families at their lowest time, when dealing with the loss of a loved one. Pure and simple, it's about delivering the quality care that families deserve at the time of burial of a family member - in a compassionate manner to reflect perpetual care.