Nothing is free, not even mourning beside a loved one’s grave, as one Australian family recently learned.
They told the Courier Mail that heavy traffic resulted in the funeral at Pinnaroo Lawn Cemetery starting a few minutes after it was supposed to. When it was over, the widow was too distraught to leave her late husband’s grave and stayed there a few minutes longer.
The woman ended up grieving just a few minutes passed the 4 p.m. closing time, even after warnings of a fee kicking in. They weren’t kidding about that fee; they were fined a “grave-robbing grief tax” of $280, said a family spokesperson.
But how dare they charge a grieving widow? According to DailyMail.com, “the fine reportedly covers the cost of staff having to work overtime when mourners linger after 4 p.m.” The family rep also said that the mourning family members were bluntly told that “Pinnaroo operates as a business.”
Brisbane City Council’s website says differently though, stating that cemeteries are publicly owned by the people of the city. “Rather than make a profit for shareholders, we seek to provide quality and affordable venues for funeral services, burials, cremations, and ash memorials,” the site says.
Even so, the overtime fee is clearly mentioned on the site as “weekday overtime (for each 30 minutes or part thereof)” and is defended by the city council rep. “While Council does make the cemeteries available for funerals outside of Crematorium and Chapel Service hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., overtime fees apply outside these hours and are payable by the family.”
Soon after making that statement, the Council changed their tune and told North-West News they’ll be waiving the fee because it was “inadvertently issued.” The family, of course, was quick to respond to the cemetery’s sudden change of heart. “While it is great that [the Council has] acknowledged this, unfortunately it was not until we went to the press about it that this happened.”