The Compass - - FRONT PAGE -

An outdated rule, which had caused some con­ster­na­tion for a heart­bro­ken Carbonear fam­ily has been re­pealed. The move came as a great re­lief to the fam­ily and to the sat­is­fac­tion of all par­ties con­cerned.

Af­ter a full week un­der the in­tense glare of the me­dia’s per­pet­ual lights, a ceme­tery con­tro­versy in Carbonear has been re­solved to the sat­is­fac­tion of a heart­bro­ken fam­ily.

The three churches, which op­er­ate the In­ter­faith Ceme­tery have all agreed to change the rules to al­low a griev­ing fam­ily their wish to pur­chase three ad­ja­cent burial plots in the ceme­tery. The move will also al­low them to one day all rest in peace to­gether with their ter­mi­nally ill daugh­ter.

David and Melody En­gram is­sued a state­ment Thurs­day, June 25 say­ing: “All three churches have ad­vo­cated the change of the In­ter­faith Ceme­tery rules, and will now al­low sin­gle, dou­ble and triple plots upon death.”

In a June 19 in­ter­view, the En­grams had told The Com­pass they never wanted to air their con­cerns in pub­lic, or em­bar­rass mem­bers of the In­ter­faith Ceme­tery Com­mit­tee in Carbonear. How­ever, they were left with no other choice but to go pub­lic with their story.

The En­grams’ only child Amelia has ter­mi­nal can­cer. The cou­ple wanted to pur­chase three plots to­gether at the town’s In­ter­faith Ceme­tery, but were flatly re­fused.

“ We’ve had our daugh­ter Amelia with us for the past two years and spent ev­ery pos­si­ble pre­cious mo­ment to­gether, but in a short while we are go­ing to lose her,” said David. “We just want to be to­gether once again... when we are all gone, for us to all be to­gether, so we need three plots.”

A few weeks ago the cou­ple asked the com­mit­tee manag­ing the In­ter­faith Ceme­tery if they could buy three ad­join­ing plots - one for Amelia and two oth­ers for them­selves. “Their re­quest was turned down. “We were out­right re­fused,” said David. “A let­ter came back, signed by Milton Peach, chair of the ceme­tery com­mit­tee, say­ing they only sell sin­gle and dou­ble plots - sin­gles if a child dies or some­one dies and they bury them in a sin­gle, and a dou­ble for a hus­band and wife,” David ex­plained.

Ac­cord­ing to the dis­traught fa­ther the com­mit­tee gave them an op­tion.

“They said we could buy two plots, one for Amelia and the other for us to ba­si­cally share,” he said.

“The first par­ent to die would be cre­mated and their ashes kept un­til the other died and then buried with them. How­ever we don’t want that, we want our daugh­ter buried be­tween us both.

“We would never wish what we are go­ing through on any­one and it wasn’t our in­ten­tion to dis­grace or em­bar­rass any­one, but they left us with no other al­ter­na­tive but to go to the me­dia,” they said.

Af­ter the story first hit the air­waves on CBC’s Here & Now June 18, no stone was left un­turned in the in­ten­sive me­dia blitz, which en­sued.

Turn­ing point

Fol­low­ing a closed door meet­ing Mon­day af­ter­noon, June 22 mem­bers of the In­ter­faith Ceme­tery Com­mit­tee sent a let­ter to all three churches, ask­ing them to con­sider chang­ing their rules.

By Tues­day, June 23, two of the three churches had signed an agree­ment al­low­ing three plots to be sold to­gether.

Mon­signor E.T. Brom­ley of St. Pa­trick’s R.C. Church con­firmed both he and the St. James Angli­can rec­tor had signed a doc­u­ment al­low­ing three plots to be bought to­gether. That would al­low Amelia En­gram to be buried be­tween her par­ents.

Brom­ley said the de­ci­sion could only be made fi­nal once the Bethany United Church pas­tor signed on. While he un­der­stood the United Church to be in agree­ment with the move, they had to go through a com­mit­tee process first.

“ Pro­cesses are on­go­ing said Bethany UC Pas­tor, Rev. Stephen Matthews.

Once all three churches signed on, a di­rec­tive was given to Ceme­tery Com­mit­tee chair Milton Peach on the pol­icy change.

Wel­come change

Wel­com­ing the change, the En­grams pointed out last week: “It was never a mat­ter of them not sell­ing us the plots. It was a mat­ter of much needed change com­ing to the rules re­gard­ing the al­low­able num­ber of plots per fam­ily at time of death.”

Bear­ing no ill feel­ings to­wards the ceme­tery com­mit­tee, the En­grams said: “We re­al­ize now you were sim­ply try­ing to en­force the rules and we hope that any­one... hurt in this process will for­give all of th­ese ac­tions and un­der­stand we were mo­ti­vated out of grief for our daugh­ter.”

They also said they, “re­gret­ted com­ments made by many against you (ceme­tery com­mit­tee), and feel they were un­jus­ti­fied and ill in­formed.”

Com­forted by the res­o­lu­tion, the En­grams con­cluded: “ We can now find some com­fort dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time in know­ing we will all, once again lay to­gether as a fam­ily.”


Two-year-old Amelia En­gram was di­ag­nosed with an ag­gres­sive malig­nant tu­mor when she was just 13 months old. At the time the fam­ily was liv­ing in Al­berta.

In June 2008 she un­der­went surgery to re­move the growth.

“We were told she was free and clear.We were elated...,” said David.

Sadly the cou­ple’s joy was short lived.

This past spring the can­cer re­turned, this time with a vengeance.

“We found out around the end of May there was noth­ing else the doc­tors could do for her,” said David. “Our world ended there, it just fell right apart and will never be the same.”

The cou­ple de­cided to leave their home in Al­berta and move back to this prov­ince so Amelia could spend her last days with her rel­a­tives and friends in Carbonear.

“We moved to Al­berta nine years ago, but this is home. All our fam­ily is here and we wanted Amelia to be with them, to be sur­rounded by that love, in her last days,” said David.

When The Com­pass fi­nally reached Milton Peach late Fri­day af­ter­noon June 19, the Ceme­tery Com­mit­tee chair de­clined any fur­ther com­ment on the sit­u­a­tion, sug­gest­ing the com­mit­tee felt it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

“We are stand­ing by our de­ci­sion, how­ever we feel the fam­ily needs time to be to­gether and we should not be adding to their stress by re­spond­ing to me­dia in­ter­views,” said Peach. “We wish them all the best and un­der­stand their frus­tra­tion.”

While the ceme­tery com­mit­tee re­mained as quiet as a grave on the is­sue, it seems every­one else was talk­ing about it. VOCM’s Bill Rowe opened his Fri­day af­ter­noon Back­talk pro­gram by ask­ing: Is this “of­fi­cial­dom or bu­reau­cracy gone mad?”

Sug­gest­ing at the time the com­mit­tee is, “mak­ing a big mis­take, morally and eth­i­cally,” Bob Ryan, Melody En­gram’s un­cle, said, “this has to change, there’s some­thing wrong with this.”

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