When visiting cemeteries remember to respect the living and the dead. Below you will find some of the basic rules regarding cemetery etiquette. These should help you not only keep out of trouble, but have a much more enjoyable experience.
1. Follow cemetery rules. Most have a sign posted near the entrance. Please follow these rules and observe floral regulations. If no rules are posted, this list of cemetery etiquette is fairly universal set of rules to follow.
2. Most cemeteries are open from dawn until dusk. Try not to remain in the cemetery after dark.
3. Follow the roadways and drive slowly, remain off the grass. Watch out for people who may not be paying attention. If the lane is narrow and another car approaches, offer to move your car until they can get through.
4. If you bring children, keep them nearby and don’t let them play on any of the monuments. This is not only disrespectful, but may cause damage to the stone. Teach them to have respect in any cemetery. No running, yelling, rolling around on the ground, a cemetery is not a playground and should not be treated as such.
5. Remember to be respectful by keeping voices down. Don’t use bad language, there may be other people there who are in mourning. 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. Don’t use your cell phone, voices tend to carry in open spaces. Turn off your car stereo while driving or parking in the cemetery.
6. Don’t touch any monuments or gravestones, unless you have permission to do restoration work. Some older memorials fall apart under the slightest touch. NEVER remove anything from a gravestone, like flowers, coins, stones and other artifacts that have been left by family.
7. If a funeral is occurring, consider making another visit at another time NEVER get in the way of funeral processions. It is in extremely bad taste to take pictures of strangers at a funeral. These are people who should be left alone at their time of grief. Unless you are specifically invited to join them, respect them and their privacy.
8. Don’t leave any trash behind in a cemetery. Litter shows disrespect to others who come to visit the cemetery, as well as the caretakers. If you find litter please be helpful and remove it, however if the cemetery is trashed or vandalized try to find out who is responsible for its upkeep before cleaning all of the cemetery. Most caretakers would be happy if you can volunteer to help. It may also be a recurring event in which the caretakers should be told in case there is or will be a police investigation into the matter, so use caution and common sense before you alter the scene in any way.
9. If it’s not against the rules and you bring your pet make sure to keep them on a leash and clean up after them.
Report fresh incidents of vandalism or theft to the police and caretaker. It’s sad but true that people come to vandalize cemeteries.
A NOTE TO GHOST HUNTERS:
If you plan to go ghost hunting after dark then it is imperative to notify the caretaker of the cemetery in advance or the local police department of your intentions. Remember, most cemeteries are considered “closed” after dark, and many may be on private property. If you are caught there after the allotted times , or without permission, you could easily be charged with trespassing. It is also a very good idea to let someone else know where you are going, and how long you expect to be there, whether ghost hunting or simply visiting rural country cemeteries. Many of these cemeteries can go a long time without a visitor, and a small accident such as a twisted ankle from tree root can turn into a large emergency if you are stranded alone.