A cemetery is primarily a place for people to mourn and visit their loved ones. When visiting a cemetery, there are a number of basic rules you should keep in mind in order to show respect to both the living and the dead.
Follow the Rules
- Most cemeteries have a sign posted near the entrance listing rules specific to the property. Rules about flowers and decorations serve to make sure the cemetery doesn’t collect too much debris that the caretakers need to clean up.
- Observe cemetery hours and do not to remain in the cemetery after dark.
Driving in the Cemetery
Follow the roadways and don’t drive on the grass. Drive slowly and obey any traffic signs posted in the cemetery. Be careful to avoid any people since they might be upset and not paying complete attention to where they are going.
Respect the Graves
- Don’t touch any monuments or headstones; this is not only disrespectful, but may cause damage to the memorials, especially older ones. Some older memorials might be in disrepair and might fall apart under the slightest touch.
- Be aware that headstone rubbings are not allowed in many cemeteries.
- Never remove anything from a grave, such as flowers, coins, or tributes that have been left by family.
- Do not walk on the graves; walk in between the headstones, and don’t stand on top of a burial place. Watch your step when you are walking; you never know if a flat headstone is under your feet.
- If part of a grave site is closed off via a fence, do not climb onto the fence or into the fenced-off area.
- Keep your voices down and don’t use offensive language.
- Don’t talk on your cell phone; voices tend to carry in open spaces and other visitors may want peace and quiet.
- Turn off your car stereo while driving or parking in the cemetery.
Children and Pets
- Keep children nearby and don’t let them play on any of the headstones or monuments. This is not only disrespectful, but may cause damage to the stone.
- Teach children to have respect in any cemetery. No running, yelling, or rolling around on the ground. A cemetery is not a playground and should not be treated as such.
- Leash your pets and be sure to clean up after them.
- If your dog barks and will not stop, you should remove them from the cemetery.
Funerals and Mourners
- If a funeral is occurring, take care not to get in the way of processions.
- Avoid contact with funeral goers or mourners. You should quietly and inconspicuously move away from any mourners or funeral processions.
- Never take photos of strangers at a funeral or visiting a grave site; it is extremely disrespectful to them in their time of grief.
- As a general rule it is best not to approach strangers as they may want to be alone in peace; of course it is perfectly acceptable to offer help to anyone who seems in need of it.
Littering creates extra work for the caretakers, and shows disrespect to the other families who come to mourn their loved ones. Take your trash with you when you go, or put it in trash receptacles. This includes cigarette butts. It would be especially nice if any trash along the way was picked up, regardless of who left it.
- Picnics are usually acceptable as long as you clean up afterwards.
- If you have a group, check with the cemetery. Some cemeteries require permits for groups or do not allow large groups at all.
- Do not bring alcohol, firearms or entertainment items into cemeteries.
Check with the cemetery before doing any film making. It may be against their policies, or they may charge a fee for it.
Incidents of vandalism or theft should be reported to the police or cemetery staff.