Board of Directors Statement Regarding Share Burials
The Share Board of Directors has issued this statement in order to explain and clarify important improvements with the upkeep of the Share Burial Plot that were put in place in 2009 by St. Joseph’s New Catholic Cemetery. The specific subject relates to the cleanliness of the burial plot and the handling of items placed by family members, which we and the cemetery heartily welcome. The changes have been made in order to be as responsive as possible to the diverse desires of the parents and families we serve while honoring the requirements of the cemetery, which provides and maintains the site without cost to families or Share. Many of us on the Share Board have experienced losses, and we are all deeply committed to the support of grieving individuals and families through the variety of our services and resources.
Share is a non-profit community organization dedicated to bringing comfort, understanding, hope, and healing to families who have suffered the loss of a baby through miscarriage, a pregnancy complication, prematurity, stillbirth, infant death up to one year, or SIDS. Those we serve are our top priority, yet we do work with others as well on their behalf, including hospitals, doctors, cemeteries, funeral directors, clergy, and other agencies; they each have their own guidelines that we must respect.
Points already noted in the Share Burial brochure prior to the 2009 changes:
- Share Burials, unlike private ones, provide communal graves for a large number of babies, with each casket holding many babies and each numbered site representing dozens of families.
- “Flowers and mementos may be left at the gravesite but are cleared periodically for cemetery caretaking.” (This is true for all the cemetery graves, including private ones, and for most cemeteries.)
- Share Burials are offered in love and without cost by Share of Lancaster, Inc., and the Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home.
- St. Joseph’s New Catholic Cemetery has donated the ground and provides all maintenance as a free service, offered out of concern and compassion. The care of the Share Burial Plot is unlike the other cemetery graves because of its distinct characteristics and in light of the group burials, which occur six times each year.
- Many families value remembering their loved ones with flowers or mementos, while many others prefer the simplicity of neat and clean gravesites. The following cemetery practices are intended to address and respect the differing desires of both groups. All must, of course, have consideration for the preferences of others as well as their own with respect to these communal graves.
- Share provides its programs and services to all of those we support in a considerate and compassionate manner, with the Board of Directors governing all operations. While we are not a “representative” body elected by those we serve, we aim to be sensitive to all needs and desires as we lead this outreach organization.
- The existing Share Burial brochure will be kept up-to-date with the specifics of the cleanup procedure and schedule set up by the cemetery so new families are fully aware of this information.
New cemetery practices designed to honor the dignity of this sacred space, enable meaningful family bereavement, and provide a workable plan for timely and efficient maintenance of the burial site:
- The plot is being maintained with a uniform mulch ground covering, proper drainage around the perimeter, and a cleanup occurring six times annually the first week of each Share burial month: January, March, May, July, September, and November. With this schedule, the cleanups occur just before the new burials, which are held on the second Tuesdays.
- All items must be removed bimonthly to keep the neatness and appearance of the site fitting for its consecrated purpose and because this is required for a cleanup process that is in keeping with the standards and policies of the cemetery.
- When removed, mementos, statues, nameplates, or other more permanent items will be carefully placed in a covered, plastic box near the site so family members can claim or relocate their items to their Share gravesites until the next cleanup. People living a great distance away are invited to find a local person to do this task. Items should be relocated to gravesites only by those who first placed them or by others whom they request to do so on their behalf.
- Flowers, weather-worn plush items, and other disposable objects will be discarded.
- Following a reasonable time in the box near the site and at the caretaker’s discretion, durable items may be moved to a maintenance building on the cemetery grounds and can be retrieved from a cemetery employee. Contact Share if you need assistance.
- Signs noting the schedule for cleanup are posted at the Share Burial Plot, and this information is noted on the Share website.
Issued March, 2010
Share Board of Directors