ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) – Althea Barnard lost her mother a few weeks ago. She says that when she and her sister asked if they could add items to their mother’s grave, cemetery staff told her that was fine. She was shocked to see things removed and scattered under a tree.
Barnard says the emptiness of his mother’s death is already overwhelming, and that doesn’t help.
“It’s very hurtful,” Barnard said. “We are still immersed in the grieving process. We come through here and we’re looking to see these lights and we’re looking to see these flowers. And they just picked them up and threw them away like trash.
Barnard has several family members buried at Rainbow Memorial Gardens and says it’s a nightmare.
Candace Watson buried her father at Rainbow Memorial Garden in 2015. She attended a funeral service on Tuesday afternoon when she noticed her father’s items were missing.
“I just turned off the lights,” Watson said. “Flowers, balloons. Her birthday was the 23rd, and she told me they took everything and threw it in a pile of trash. Because they had to mow the grass. She just told me I could go out and get my family’s things.
A former Rainbow Memorial Gardens worker told WBRC on Wednesday that they were told to remove anything not in a vase for safety reasons.
“He said something about everything changing now,” says the former employee. “Because we brought in a family member while we were last weeding and she got hit with something. He says it is a hazard and needs to be cleaned up.
Randi Nance adds that before they started removing items, they should have notified the families.
She has relatives buried in this cemetery and her family owns two other vacant burial grounds. She now says they plan to sell them.
“After sorting everything out today, we decide if we should keep it or sell it,” says Nance. “Because I don’t want to put my family there if they’re going to be disrespected like that.”
WBRC contacted Rainbow Memorial Gardens about the complaints from these families and they said they had no comment.
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