What Goes Into Maintaining A Grave Site?

01 June 2022

Saying goodbye to a loved one is always hard, but having a dedicated resting place that family and friends can visit well into the future can be comforting.

The term ‘in perpetuity’ is often understood to mean that the maintenance of graves is the responsibility of the custodian (in this case, Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust), forever. But did you know that the maintenance of grave sites is a shared responsibility?

In Victoria, a right of interment for a burial site is perpetual (ie. forever), while a right of interment for a cremation site is specified upon arrangement. For this reason, it is important that families and friends understand the tasks that may be involved in maintaining a memorial site.

For example, although our horticultural teams care for gardens and lawns, repairs to monuments and headstones remain the responsibility of the holder of the right of interment – an important role that is assigned when the grave or memorial site is purchased.

It’s also worth noting that even if there’s been damage to a memorial (ie. a plaque or headstone), our team can’t step in to repair them unless a replacement or repair has been ordered by the holder of the right of interment.

If a plaque or memorial is damaged, SMCT teams can't step in to repair or replace it unless this has been requested by the holder of the right of interment.

In addition, if a memorial expires, it’s the responsibility of the friends or family of the deceased to take action. If you’re visiting one of our locations and your memorial site is for a fixed term, you’ll know it’s expired if there’s an orange sticker on it. You can also check the status of a site online, or speak to our team.

Our team also works hard to minimise the occurrence of grave subsidence, or sinking. This is a natural process where the air pockets that are caught in the soil after burial shift over time, causing the grave to look sunken. We understand that this can be upsetting, so our teams take steps to minimise subsidence as much as possible.

Our teams take steps to minimise the effects of grave subsidence (sinking).

For our part, our teams are always busy maintaining our peaceful surroundings, ensuring they remain safe places of reflection and remembrance. Whether it's daily work or periodic tasks, there are some essential tasks our teams perform.

We take great pride in our stunning gardens and sites. Works vary with the seasons, but include lawn care, mulching our vibrant gardens, and removing rubbish and other debris.

We employ professional arborists to assist with the upkeep of our beautiful trees, particularly after severe storms. Their essential role ensures the safety of our visitors, staff and the native and exotic plants and animals that call our sites home.

The maintenance of pathways and surrounding infrastructure ensures our visitors can enjoy these amenities well into the future.

Maintenance of lawns, pathways and other infrastructure is a core part of our outdoor teams' roles.

While our team works hard to keep our broader grounds and amenities in excellent working order, it’s important to keep in mind that maintenance is a shared responsibility.

Guidelines for tributes and mementoes govern each memorial area to ensure the safety of the environment, our guests, and our team. Wherever possible, we request that fresh or dried flowers are left instead of artificial ones, and that no glass, open flames, or perishable items be left for environmental reasons. Biodegradable floral tributes are preferred.

If you have any questions, or any concerns about a loved one’s grave site, our team is always on hand to help, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

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