Adelaide Cemeteries Authority Blog

Cemetery weekends - no funeral required

Cemetery weekends - no funeral required

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Ever been to a cemetery or memorial park on the weekend? Can’t you just see the expressions on your family’s faces as you exclaim “Jump in the car everyone, we’re off to the cemetery! Want to grab some food and drinks on the way? We can make it a picnic!”

What the? Why go to a cemetery unless you really need to? And what if there’s a funeral in progress? What would people think? Well, the answers might just surprise you.

Shades of Weekend at Bernie’s?

Not at all. Before jumping to any conclusions, there are a couple of things to cover here – what happens at cemeteries on weekends, and ‘what modern cemeteries are’. Very few funeral services, burials or cremations actually happen on weekends at West Terrace Cemetery, Cheltenham Cemetery, Enfield Memorial Park or Smithfield Memorial Park. The same holds true for most cemeteries. Generally, families prefer to hold funeral services on weekdays. Funeral Directors tend to charge penalty rates on weekends, and this can make Saturday and Sunday services more expensive. To the surprise of many, very little in the way of ‘cemetery business’ tends to happen on weekends.

So what does happen?

Let’s take a look at Enfield Memorial Park as an example. It looks a lot like a quiet, leafy public park in the middle of the suburbs. Of course there are burial sites at Enfield but first impressions are really of a park – it doesn’t look like a traditional ‘rows of headstones’ cemetery at all. No hearses, no mourners. Rather, joggers and walkers, along with locals walking their dogs. You’ll see learner drivers slowly making their way along the quiet roads. And yes, there are usually some individuals or small groups memorialising at grave sites. Many hectares of open space mean that there’s room for everybody to do their own thing without anyone getting in anyone else’s way. So when did all this start happening?

The evolution of the memorial park

Not that long ago funerals were sombre affairs where black was the tone of the day. Today more and more funerals are colourful celebrations of life during which happy memories are shared and the good times are the focus. In a similar way, attitudes towards cemeteries are changing. While there are still those individuals who believe that cemeteries should remain a place with no purpose other than to bury our dead, over the past couple of decades many others have started embracing these beautiful spaces as public areas to enjoy at any time. As this view gains traction, cemeteries and memorial parks are becoming busier than ever during early mornings, evenings and on weekends. It makes sense. As modern suburban backyards become ever smaller, everyone is looking for a big, shared backyard for leisure and recreation, and most memorial parks welcome this.

So load up the family. Bring the dog, maybe a footy to kick around and by all means pack a picnic lunch. Chances are you’ll have a great time and one thing’s for sure – you’ll go into the next week with something different to say when people ask “So, what did you get up to on the weekend?”

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