‘He can’t be here to open presents with us’ - Mother ordered to remove Christmas tree from the grave of her stillborn son
PUBLISHED: 13:35 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:21 12 December 2017
A mother has spoken of her devastation after she was ordered to remove a 6ft Christmas tree from her stillborn son’s grave.
Stephanie Browne’s son Oskar was stillborn in May 2010 and ever since she has lovingly tended his grave at Earlham Cemetery, in Norwich.
But after visiting once or twice a week for more than seven years – and decorating the grave for special occasions – 27-year-old Miss Browne has now been told she must remove the decoration after Norwich City Council said it had received complaints.
Miss Browne, who is also mother to four-year-old Ola and 11-month-old Odin, said: “My ex-partner, Oskar’s dad, received a letter saying I had to remove the Christmas tree because people found it inappropriate. So I called the council and they said I had 13 days to remove the tree because of health and safety.”
Miss Browne said she was also told the rules at the cemetery were changing to crack down on decorations, something she said helped many mothers feel connected to their lost little ones. She said: “It’s really upsetting, and it’s happened to other mums too. They can’t be here to celebrate with us. My four-year-old daughter loves Oskar, if we don’t go and visit she cries and she didn’t really understand when I told her we had to take the tree down.
“I can’t do anything else for him, he can’t be here to open presents with us, so I want the grave to look its best. I do it on his birthday – that’s when I go mad - but also Halloween and Christmas. It’s only four weeks a year, the grave is always tidy. It’s not hurting anyone.”
Miss Browne, who lives in Elizabeth Fry Road, said she had now removed the tree and had brought a 6ft real tree – and cut it in half – to put in its place.
But as she is expecting her fourth child in January she said she could have done without the battle. She said: “I’ve been in and out of labour the last couple of weeks, so I just don’t need the stress of it.”
A spokesperson for Norwich City Council said: “We understand how important it is for families to be able to pay their respects to loved ones who have passed away. Wherever possible we will use our discretion around items placed on graves, especially at poignant times of the year, but have a duty to make sure the cemetery is kept safe and accessible to everyone that visits.”