Visiting a Houston cemetery can be a bittersweet experience, or it can be a positive way to reflect on the past, or even your heritage. Whoever you are visiting, there are rules, both written and unwritten, that you’ll want to follow. Some of these rules will help you have a better visit, and some are there to protect memorials. While every graveyard is unique in its own right, there is some universal advice that you should know.
Always check the operational hours of the cemetery before going. Usually they will be open during daylight, seven days a week, but planned and emergency maintenance can create obstacles to your visit. Packing adequately is also important. Drinking water, sunscreen and a hat or an umbrella are a must. There can be a surprising amount of walking involved, so you might be out there longer than expected. Lastly, check to see if you can map the location of the memorial you want to find before you leave. It can save you hours of struggle and frustration.
This is a tricky subject. Often when you get to the gravesite, you might find growth or other issues impacting the integrity of the memorial. The general rule of thumb is that you should leave grave care to the professionals. These markers are meant to last through the ages, and many simple tricks can have lasting negative consequences. That said, there are a few exceptions to that rule. Always check with a caretaker or manager before trying any grave maintenance.
If you have the go ahead, you can do a few simple things. Most of grave care comes down to managing growth. Vines, moss and other vegetation might be encroaching on the memorial. You can use small shears and a gentle touch to clean things up a bit. Whatever you do, avoid chemical agents. Even the gentlest solutions can cause a cascading erosion effect that will destroy the words and decorations on the memorial over time.
Respect the Rules
Most Houston cemeteries have websites where you can check the posted rules. The most common will tell you what is and isn’t allowed to be left at a memorial. It’s an old tradition to leave flowers or a memento behind, but these can cause problems for the cemetery caretakers. In most cases, you’ll need pre-approved vases or other sanctioned ways to properly leave something at the grave. This helps caretakers ensure proper protection of every memorial and it helps maintain the peace for other visitors.
The general etiquette in a graveyard is one of respect. Respect every memorial as if it belonged to a loved one. Give other visitors space. Talking is ok, but shouting and excessive loudness is generally discouraged.
That’s most of what you need to know. If you have questions, you can usually contact an operator or manager of the Houston cemetery you’re planning to visit. Hopefully, your visit can be a positive one.