Mourners visiting a cemetery in Norway have been left shocked after finding hundreds of gravestones covered in black plastic bags.
Attached to each bag is a late-payment notice, warning relatives of the deceased that the headstone will shortly be removed – unless they cover the cost of the grave’s upkeep.
The controversial move at the Mollendal graveyard in Bergen was orchestrated by a company contracted to run the site.
Thor Oivind Jensen, a political lecturer at the University of Bergen, and his wife, who visited the graveyard recently, were so outraged at what they saw that they posted photos of the covered-up stones on Facebook.
The post has since been ‘shared’ about 200 times.
‘What we saw is both tasteless and unworthy of a burial ground,’ Jensen told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK.
‘The gravestones have been covered up and locked with a clip, with something that looks like a debt collection notice attached to it.
‘It reminds me of how parking wardens clamp the wheels of cars.’
Around 670 gravestones at the cemetery are affected.
Policy dictates that when a person is buried there, the municipal government covers the initial maintenance cost and rental – 25 years for a coffin; 20 years for an urn.
After that period, it falls upon relatives of the deceased to pay for the annual upkeep: 518 krone (£52) for a coffin; and 363 krone (£37) for an urn.
Failure to do so means that the headstone is removed and destroyed.
It remains unclear what would happen to the body, with Akasia’s website stating that the ‘grave will expire so that it can be used again’.
Akasia started the practice earlier this year, and remains unapologetic.
It attaches a small note to the stone for six months, after which the plastic bag is added as a final warning.
Ove-Christian Fredriksen, the company’s chief executive, said: ‘We believe this is a sensible way to do it. Gravestones are left standing with a small label attached for half a year.
‘The labels state that we want contact with the right person.’
There are 15,000 graves in the Bergen region where contact with relatives has been lost.
But whether Akasia’s controversial approach will rectify that remains to be seen.
source: dailymail UK