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Missing grave marker makes mourning difficult for Jacksonville family

11:26 PM, May 14, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Each May 14th is an emotional day for Christine Little. This year, 2013, marks 29 years since she buried her then seven-month-old daughter.

"Today is her birthday so we came out to tell her happy birthday," said Little.

Little's daughter was buried in Restlawn Memorial park.

"It is right up in here," she said, "right up in here somewhere."

She knows the general area of the grave, but not the exact location and that's the problem.

"I cry, I just feel bad," said Little, "it is crazy!"

The problem is the marker or headstone, with a special design, is missing. She described it. 

"It was made of a heart shape with the wings sticking out of the heart and it was flat," said Little. "It had her name engraved on it the day she was born and the day she died."

Little said the grave marker was damaged by the cemetery's lawn mower. She said she was promised it would be replaced. That was seven years ago.

"It is aggravating, it is frustrating, I'm upset," she said.

The family is upset because they come to cemetery birthday after birthday and nothing has changed. Her exact burial plot has become a mystery.

"I'm sure she's here somewhere," said Little.

Little said she wants the cemetery to replace the marker on her daughter's grave.

"I want them to put her headstone back out here so we can come out here an tell her happy birthday," said Little, "Something to look at besides just looking at the grass."

Restlawn administrator Wallette Gundy said this is the first time she's heard of Little's complaint.

"I gave her a complaint form to file with the state and let them decide," said Gundy. 

Division of Funerals and Cemetery spokesperson Anna Alexopoulos said, "Restlawn is considered an exempt cemetery and there's no regulatory jurisdiction."

So what can consumers do if there's a problem?

First for you:

If consumers have an issue with the cemetery, they are to bring it to the cemetery first, said Alexopoulos.

If it is not resolved, they should contact the state's funeral division for help resolving the issue. That number is 1-850-413-3039.

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