Cottage Grove Cemetery wants families to remove keepsakes from loved ones' graves

A change in policy at a Cottage Grove Cemetery has some visitors upset, and it's not just because their keepsakes were moved. It's because they say they weren't told about it.

Stones, statues, pots of flowers, all from grave sites at Cottage Grove Cemetery will be removed under the changes. The superintendent said that with the cemetery under new management, the rules have changed. As a result, keepsakes have been collected, and will be collected in order to maintain the property.

Visitors of the Cottage Grove Cemetery are seeking compromise and compassion after hearing things they’ve placed on loved one’s grave sites over the years are no longer allowed.

“The cemetery is not for the dead,” Diana Biebeau says. “It’s for the living. For the people that are left behind to pick up the pieces of their shattered heart."

Diana Biebeau’s son is buried at Cottage Grove. She tells us, “Because it’s not on a stand, I have to desecrate my son’s grave that I’ve taken care of for the last many years.”

The cemetery introducing a new set of rules established by the Cottage Grove Cemetery Association and now enforced by Superintendent Ken Otto.

“The biggest thing is safety,” Otto explains. “These rocks are falling off the monuments on the ground, and the mowers come along, hit these rocks and shoot ‘em out like a bullet. I’ve seen people hurt in the past, and I don’t want that.”

According to Otto, in April letters were sent to those who’d done business with the cemetery within the last 10 years, notifying them of the upcoming changes. The letters were sent to addresses the cemetery had on file.

He says, “I want them to come pick it up. I want the families to get the stuff that means something to them. I want them to take it home. I don’t want to throw it away. I don’t want to destroy it."

“There were hundreds of people who were never notified,” says Biebeau, “and they found out through my video.”

Biebeau says she posted the video on Facebook on Tuesday after she came to visit her son’s grave and the items were gone. Among those things missing, a stake in her son’s planter that said “hope."

"You took my hope away, not only physically, but you picked a scab off my heart and it's bleeding all over again,” Biebeau said, speaking to the cemetery association.

Until collected, those items will stay in those rows for the time being.