The family of Bendigo teen Kirra Rose Sim who lost her life almost five years ago has been left devastated over complaints about her grave.
Nineteen-year-old Kirra died in September 2012 in a car crash in Marong. In the years that followed, her family painstakingly decorated Kirra’s final resting place at the Bendigo Cemetery.
But on Friday, Kirra’s mother received a letter from Remembrance Parks - Central Victoria saying Kirra’s gravesite was in breach of decoration policy guidelines.
The letter said several complaints had been received in respect to Kirra’s grave, with the painting of the concrete surrounding her plaque unacceptable and other items creating safety hazards.
Kirra’s brother Trent Sim said the family was extremely shocked by the letter as the concrete was painted Kirra’s favourite colour, purple, about three years ago.
“It’s not hurting anyone, it’s not a safety issue,” he said. “It’s really hit a nerve that someone has a problem with it.”
Mr Sim said the family had no issue in removing a string line, which had been placed around Kirra’s plot in an effort to prevent the grass being poisoned.
“If there is a safety issue, fair enough,” he said. “We’d hate for anyone to be injured – that’s the last thing we’d want.”
The family has been given 21 days to make the changes or Remembrance Parks - Central Victoria will do it for them. In a cruel twist, the end of the 21 days also falls on what would have been Kirra’s 24th birthday.
Kirra’s mother visits her daughter’s grave almost every day and Mr Sim said it was kept in the best possible condition as it was a reflection of Kirra.
“The whole thing has hurt mum,” he said. “I think she has slept a total of about three hours since receiving the letter.”
Remembrance Parks - Central Victoria chief executive Graham Fountain said at present, the only issue with Kirra’s grave was the concrete.
“Every grave and every funeral we have at the cemetery is a tragedy for the family,” he said. “We respect that and we want to work with them.”
Remembrance Parks - Central Victoria guidelines state “concrete beams must remain in their natural state” and must not be painted or decorated.
Mr Fountain said they could not allow every family to paint the concrete a different colour.
“That’s not conducive of the appearance that people expect,” he said. “There are other ways to recognise someone’s favourite colours.
”We just ask the community to work with us so it’s a win-win for everyone and complies with our safety guidelines.”
Mr Sim said the family had previously had discussions with Remembrance Parks - Central Victoria over the colour of a chair they had permission to install at Kirra’s grave.
They were allowed to keep it painted purple, but Mr Sim said he was confused when the letter also made mention of the family not complying with “previous undertakings with respect to the seat”.
Mr Fountain said there was no current issue with the seat, only solar lights attached to it, which have since been removed.
In response to the complaints, Mr Sim has launched a change.org petition in the hopes of keeping Kirra’s grave the same. In three days, the petition has already amassed more than 1000 signatures.
“I understand there are guidelines, but to be honest, I’m just hurt,” he said.
“If we are made to remove these personal touches that mean so much to us it will destroy mum, in a way that only a parent who has lost a child could know.”
The petition can be found online at change.org.