Monroe Dispatch - No Struggle, No Progress

Cemetery Angers Grieving Family


March 18, 2021

Richwood Memorial Gardens

Richwood Memorial Gardens

It is very difficult for a family to bury a loved one. For most families, the pain/grief can be almost unbearable as they prepare to see a loved one for the last time before the Second Coming. That pain/grief can be measured tenfold when a family has to bury a child. Now imagine how a family, especially the parents, would feel when they get to the cemetery to say goodbye, and they can't see their loved one being lowered into the ground, as the final act of closure. Joseph Burks alleged that is what happened to him on Thursday, March 4, 2021 at the Richwood Memorial Gardens Cemetery, as they arrived at the cemetery to lay their child to rest. Burks alleges that cemetery personnel didn't have the grave dug that had already been paid for to bury their child, denying them the dignity he and his wife felt was lost by not saying their last goodbye. Burks said that the owner told him that the family would have to leave their child at the cemetery until the grave was prepared. The family was upset and confused when they heard those words, as they believed that everything had been prepared for the family's arrival at the cemetery.

Burks and his family disagreed with the cemetery owner's offer, and after more words were exchanged with Burks and his wife, they told the funeral director to take their child back to the funeral home. The owner was allegedly insistent that the child's body stay with them, even though the remains would have to stay outside in the elements until a grave could be dug. The funeral director, in essence, couldn't do what he had been paid to do. That was to oversee the burial of Burks' child.

When it became clear that the Burks family wasn't going to get the kind of burial they were expecting, they asked that the cemetery refund their money. The family wasn't about to let their child lay around the cemetery for an unknown amount of time before being buried because by then some family members had already left the cemetery. All Burks and his wife Mignon wanted to do, was bring closure to a difficult moment in their life by laying their child Jenesis to rest. According to Burks, he and his wife received a full refund from the owner, and they were able to secure a grave at the Mulhearn Cemetery on Hwy 80. Their child was buried the next day. There have been other alleged things that have happened at Richwood Gardens where things had gone wrong. One alleged incident centers around a casket being accidently opened when an attempt was made to dig a new grave too close to that casket. Another problem associated with the cemetery is an alleged drainage issue where water is said to accumulate in large sections of the cemetery.

Burks said that on a day that can be the most challenging day of someone's life - when dignity, compassion, and empathy should be shown - he was not offered the tenderness he wanted and needed at Richwood Memorial Gardens. Though it's been several weeks since the ordeal, the Burks' family said that cemetery management has not reached out to them to offer an apology.


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