Grieving Mum Told To Remove Toys Off Her Son’s Grave
35-year-old Natalie Reeves from Battle, East Sussex, lost her two-year-old son James Manning more than two years ago, and his grave is currently adorned with his favourite toys including Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine and a football, which he loved playing with during his life.
However the care worker recently received a letter from the council telling her to remove all but two toys, and have given her a deadline of three weeks. She has now launched an online petition to rally support, which she hopes will pressure the council into revoking their decision.
Natalie said: "To be enforcing these rules, they clearly don't understand what it's like to lose your only son.
"This is heartless and senseless to me as a mum who visits her only child every day and makes sure he is well-kept."
She added: "It's a parent's unimaginable nightmare to have to bury or cremate their child.
"It is important for families to have a place to tend to or visit whenever they wish, with as little regulations as possible."
Before lockdown Natalie received a letter from the council telling her to remove as many toys as possible due to regulations. She contacted her local MP Huw Merriman and heard nothing more until last Wednesday when she received another letter from the council. It stated that the toys would be removed and taken to the council office for her to collect if Natalie did not remove them herself.
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Natalie said: "They are being petty and too by-the-book. There's no compassion. As long as it's tidy and within reason there shouldn't be rules on what you place on your child's grave. It's hard enough to lose a child as it is."
At Christmas and anniversaries the council loosens their restrictions on what can be placed on the graves. But Natalie says this shows a misunderstanding of the grieving process.
She said: "It's not just Christmas and birthdays. They don't understand that every day is a hard day."
Natalie added: "How do you choose which two toys? It's too upsetting to think about. I hope that with the petition they will see some reason. It's not like I'm going to pile loads of toys there, I just want the grave left as it is."
Cllr Glenna Favell, Battle Town Council's chairman, said: "Battle Town Council is very proud of its beautiful and tranquil cemetery, which is visited not only by the bereaved, but also by people who enjoy the wildflowers, butterflies, the tree walk, etc, and those seeking peace and quiet.
She added: "The cemetery regulations are in place to ensure that the cemetery retains its dignified character and to also protect our staff from injury.
"However, the council is also sensitive regarding families wishing to mark a special anniversary by temporarily placing additional items at that time."
James tragically died in 2018 after choking on a piece of sausage at Butlins in Bognor Regis. Poor Natalie - let's hope his toys get to remain in the cemetery.
Featured Image Credit: SWNS
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