I recently had the misfortune of trying to get a grave prepared for a loved one in the Slocan Cemetery.
My brother-in-law, not from this area, passed on Wednesday, January 30 and had a prepaid plot. Since the Slocan Village office is closed Fridays, I had to wait until the following Monday to request that the grave be dug by Wednesday.
The village foreman informed me that there cannot be winter burials in Slocan because the ground is frozen. I replied that I had just ploughed our driveway and was bringing up fresh dirt and since snow is one of the best insulators, I could not see the ground being frozen under the plot site. We are not talking Nunavut here. Then he said that it might be muddy. So if the ground is frozen, there shouldn’t be any mud? If there is mud then the ground is not frozen. What concern was that of his?
Reflecting back, perhaps he meant it was too muddy for his feet and not for those of the funeral goers. He said that they had experienced problems digging a grave the previous year, where it was sloughing in from another grave and they had to shore it up. What concern was that of mine?
He suggested that the funeral parlor could hold the body and put the burial off as they often do that. Do they really? I was not aware of that.
I reminded him that this was a full-grave burial, not a partial one as my brother-in-law’s wish was not to be cremated. How long can you hold a body before it starts decomposing?
The foreman finally told me to call the funeral parlor in Creston and see if they had any suggestions. I was horrified. So I indeed called the funeral home and was told that everything was going to be fine.
In the meantime, the widow and her sons became aware of what was happening and were understandably upset. They were prepared to dig the grave for their father by hand if necessary. Did the family need this extra grief when they were already in mourning?
I found this not only unbelievable, but unacceptable. So I am warning people who may want to have their final resting place in the Slocan Cemetery to not die in the winter as apparently the ground is frozen and it cannot be done. Or, if the Village of Slocan cannot accommodate winter burials then perhaps they should purchase a large freezer in which to store the corpses until warmer weather.