Murder shrine in front of my house
July 2, 2004 9:53 AM   Subscribe

So, a murder happened in front of my house while we were on vacation last week. Now there is a shrine there around my tree about 5 feet from the bottom of my steps and people coming by day and night leaving stuff and lighting candles.

I don't mind the shrine, but how long do I leave that stuff there? How can I get people to not leave candles burning there (I am worried about fire danger.) Am I responsible for disposing of the stuff?

I have some ideas, but would like some suggestions.

Here's a link to the info about the murder.,1413,125~1486~2236893,00.html
posted by aacheson to Human Relations (13 answers total)
that's can put a nice note up requesting no candles, due to the fire hazard...people will comply i think.
posted by amberglow at 9:56 AM on July 2, 2004

Better yet, just ask people who really want to leave candles to leave them unlit. :-)

From times I've seen this before on certain deadly curves in the country (not people being shot, just people dying in car wrecks), I'd expect you will see this happen for a couple of weeks. After that leave the cross + inscription there (assuming there's a cross) for at least 6 months (again, from what I've seen).

If during that time it manages to fall over, repair it. If any of the offerings, flowers, whatnot wilt and die, dispose of them (perhaps save the notes attached for the bereved). After that, leave it alone for a couple of weeks. If nobody fixes it during that time, I think you're safe to assume anyone grieving is done; you might want to kindly inform the bereved family to pick it up.

Better yet, why don't you ask a clergyman at a church of your choice what's best?
posted by shepd at 10:05 AM on July 2, 2004

Could you ask the city to remove it?
posted by Hackworth at 10:24 AM on July 2, 2004

I HATE these shrine things. I don't understand them. If someone dies in a home, do the friends and family leave offerings in that spot? It just doesn't make sense to me. I sympathize. I would definitely remove any flowers or candles - leave notes - perhaps leave a note up that says please do not leave burning candles because of the fire hazard?
posted by agregoli at 10:26 AM on July 2, 2004

Cemetaries often post ther flower disposal policy where mourners can clearly see it. The idea is that flowers left at a gravesite will die after a few days, and then begin to look disrespectful. You may want to post a note indicating that out of respect for the deceased and the safety of the living, excessive honorary material will be removed weekly. Specify the day on which the removal will occur.

There are several other things to consider:
(1) the appropriate place for mourning is the cemetary.
(2) freestyle urban shrines disrupt traffic flow, disturb the locals, and negatively impact property values

If there is overwhelming community support for a shrine to the deceased at the place of death, call a community meeting and formalize the process. You need to get community members to agree that they support the shrine concept. Then you need to define acceptable and unacceptable mourning practices. A plaque honoring the deceased is tasteful and minimally disruptive.

Be aware that property owners will tend to oppose the whole shrine idea.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:45 AM on July 2, 2004

When my cousin died in a motorcycle accident that involved a tree in someone's yard, the owner of the house left my cousin's memorial up for a month, which I thought was an appropriate time, as a mourner. However, I don't know if that was their choice, or just when friends and family stopped maintaining it.

As for the candles, though, I have no idea. Given the circumstances, I don't know how receptive the mourners would be to the idea of fire safety, even if you did put up a notice (which makes perfect sense to me)
posted by Ruki at 10:47 AM on July 2, 2004

I second shepd's comments... and also suggest that perhaps you contact the family's spokesperson (it's a media event, they'll have one — even if it is their second cousin), and try to coordinate early-on.
posted by silusGROK at 11:08 AM on July 2, 2004

See if his family is asking people to make charitable donations and offer to let them place a collection box in front of your house. You could leave a sign saying that candles and flowers will be disposed of, but that you will accept checks made out to charity x and give them to the victim's family to send off.
posted by alphanerd at 11:15 AM on July 2, 2004

Is it on the "easement?"

The easement is that little strip of property in front of your house, closest to the curb. The interesting thing is that the city (or other presiding government entity) actually has control of that little strip, (although you pay taxes, and pay for maintenance of it...). Maybe it's their concern.

Oh, it isn't on the easement? Never mind...
posted by jpburns at 11:18 AM on July 2, 2004

Candles - put out a tray of sand, aluminum pie plate would work, seed with an unlit votive, so mourners get the idea. Pretty safe. I'd remove dead flowers and burnt down candles. It's very kind of you to help out.
posted by theora55 at 11:56 AM on July 2, 2004

i like theora55's idea. in east bumblefuck, florida, shrines are kept up an infinitum. i'm not sure if that's because people maintain them or what, but most of them get replaced by offical signs saying that it was a memorial. sometimes somebody puts up a permanent cross or something, and well, that stays, too.
posted by taumeson at 12:31 PM on July 2, 2004

There was an FPP on roadside memorials a while back that provides some historical info. on the practice.
posted by hyperizer at 2:23 PM on July 2, 2004

Someone (a student) died in a rta on the road outside out flats about eight years ago. Its at the side of the park and she was jogging. The relatives have left flowers at the tree where she died every birthday, Christmas and Valentines Day since. The grieving process never ends.
posted by feelinglistless at 8:03 AM on July 3, 2004

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