When Max Corbett-Gardener was just 4 years old, he passed away from complications due to epilepsy. His family was left grieving as they had to bury their young son.
Jo Corbett-Weeks, Max’s mother, saved up $4580 to give her little boy a special headstone in the cemetery that would reflect his spirit.
The headstone was a star-shaped stone being hugged by a teddy bear with an inscription.
“I chose a star-shaped stone because I wanted something suitable for Max – something personal. This stone is just so perfect for my poor little chap,” Jo said.
It took 3 years to get the headstone paid for and put on the grave site, but on Max’s 7th birthday it finally happened.
Three days later, the stone was removed from the cemetery without the consent of the family.
But how could this happen?
According to the Malvern Town Council, who was in charge of the cemetery, one family had complained that the headstone was not “in keeping” with the rest of the cemetery.
“I was totally unaware this was going on. The council did not contact me and it was the stonemason who told me he’d been ordered to remove it,” Corbett-Weeks explained. “I feel upset, distressed and angry. We have been through so much as a family. I could understand if the grave was uncared for or unsightly, but it isn’t. The headstone meant a lot to me and the family but now we are fighting to have it put back,” she said. “It’s a horrible situation. We just want to have somewhere to grieve.
According to the council, the cemetery has an application process for headstones and if Jo Corbett-Weeks had submitted the application during a specific time frame, they would have told her up front that she could not use the star shape. Max was buried in the adult area of the cemetery so he could be closer to family, and if he had been buried in the children’s area it would have been totally fine.
A Malvern Town Council spokesperson had this to say:
“We have a conformity of shapes in our lawn cemetery. We were contacted by people who objected to the shape. The longer it stayed up, the harder the process would have been. It was a very difficult decision to remove it but one we had to make straight away. It wasn’t necessarily an objection to the shape but why we appeared to be applying one rule to one family and other rules to another. The stonemason in this situation did not have permission to put the stone up – and the stone is not in keeping with the graves in that area. By not following the correct process he has caused considerable distress to both families.”
The council will be meeting with Jo Corbett-Weeks to discuss a new design for Max’s headstone.
Personally, I don’t know how someone could, in good conscience, have a child’s headstone removed because it was ‘the wrong shape.’ Do you think the family that complained was in the right or the wrong? Let us know.