A mother who gave birth to her stillborn baby at 40 weeks was horrified to discover 100s of tiny, empty graves waiting to be filled next to his final resting place.
The sickening sight of row upon row of newly-dug graves greets relatives and friends who are visiting loved ones at South Bristol Crematorium’s dedicated baby garden.
Emma Rowlands, 27 and her husband Darren, regularly make the journey to visit their son Elijah, who was stillborn in May 2013.
She said: “It was a terrible, harrowing scene and these tiny open graves were on show for all to see.
“They were a stark reminder about not only the pain we had been through but others as well.”
Emma and Darren complained to Bristol City Council who put up a willow screen, but this has since been blown over by winds and has not been replaced, leaving the baby graves exposed.
“When I got pregnant again I just couldn’t face going up there, ” said Emma. “I was so worried the same could happen as did with Elijah.
“The point of going to visit a loved one is to get some comfort but these open graves are a constant reminder to all parents of what happened.
“In my opinion the decision to dig so many at once was a cost-cutting exercise and no thought was given to the upset it could cause.
“I know dozens of other parents who have also complained to the crematorium.”
Bristol City Council said the digging of grave plots in advance is standard practice at cemeteries and that by preparing the graves in advance, the area stays neat and clean and minimises the impact of future burials.
A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “We regret that the process for this necessary extension has caused distress to some of the families who have visited the baby cemetery.
“Since commencing work we have received one complaint from a member of the public.
“Work is soon to be completed.
“Whilst the extension is awaiting completion, a temporary fence has been erected in the baby section to screen off the unfinished area and hopefully avoid causing any unnecessary distress to visitors.”