The controversy on what to do with the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been going on since May 1 when he was released to a funeral home. Peter Stefan, the owner of the funeral home, has been trying to find a cemetery that would accept to bury Tsarnaev but was consistently turned down. This act, while controversial, has at least served to educated people on the fact that cemeteries are often privately owned and have the right to refuse burial.
As of yesterday evening, a man named Paul Keane had stepped forward and offered the family of Tsarnaev the use of one of his privately-owned plots that would have put this suspected killer right beside his own mother. However, when I tried to follow up with that story this morning, I discovered that his body has been buried in an undisclosed location outside the city of Worcester.
This particular bend in the story of Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been interesting. We funeral professionals don’t often have a mainstream story that so directly related to our fields of knowledge and so, as you can imagine, this is being discussed in just about every funeral blog I read.
With the newly disseminated information on privately-owned cemeteries, more people are talking about who has the ‘right’ to be buried and where. Personally, it is my belief that the surviving family has a right to see their loved one, no matter how heinous the acts they’ve committed, to be treated with dignity. We don’t often think about the surviving family when we consider the death of a criminal and we need to start. The person, no matter how atrocious their acts, was still loved by someone. They grew up with a family and friends who will remember them from the good times shared. Every single one of us have committed transgressions in our lives and there will always be at least one person who won’t really be sad to see us go. Granted, most of us don’t murder or torture people, but who are we to tell a family member that they can’t grieve for their loved one?
This all being said, I still understand why no cemetery would be willing to take him. His body being there would have put all other adjoining plots and the cemetery itself at risk for vandalization. The cemetery has a duty to its families to do enough due diligence to keep their graves protected and that would be very difficult with a portion of the population calling for retribution. And imagine grieving your own loved one… who is buried right next to this guy. You’re not going to get much peace of mine when visiting.
This happens more than we consider. Think about the gravesite of Jim Morrison. It and the graves around it are constantly being vandalized by idiot morons who believe their “grief” to be superior than that of those whose graves surround him.
So what are your thoughts? Does everyone deserve dignity in final disposition? Was the cemetery right in refusing to bury him? Was the funeral director right in accepting his body in the first place?