Distraught family told ‘dad and granddad’ can’t be written on loved one’s grave

John Walden’s daughter Caroline said she was “outraged” when the Reverend at St Mary’s Church in Norfolk rejected the design for her father’s grave because tributes should be ‘dignified’

A distraught family have been told they cannot put the words ‘dad or granddad’ on their loved one’s grave – because it goes against church policy.

John Walden, 65, was buried in St Mary’s Church in Syderstone, Norfolk last February.

His daughter Caroline, 45, described how they then approached a local stonemason to inscribe his headstone, reading ‘loving husband, dad, and granddad’ – the names they used to call him.

But their pleas have been rejected by the Reverend due to diocese rules which say inscriptions have to be “simple, dignified and reverent”.

Caroline claims the family has been told they can only put the more formal “grandfather and father” on the stone.

The family claim they are now considering having his body exhumed and buried elsewhere.

The mother-of-two from Fakenham, in Norfolk, said her family is “outraged” and the demand is an “insult” to her dad.

She said: “I am extremely disgusted and outraged by the decision.

“It is an insult to my dad.

“My dad would have been very offended if I had called him by that name because he always wanted to be known as ‘dad’.

“He was an extremely nice man and very caring.

“There are several other gravestones in the churchyard which say ‘dad’ or ‘grandad’ on them, so we don’t know that the issue is.

“It’s absolutely disgusting. We are meant to be mourning the loss of my dad and instead the rector is making it worse.

“I don’t think that a religious representative should be treating a grieving family like this.

Mr Walden, a farmer from Tattersett, Norfolk, suffered with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had a heart attack in December 2017.

After spending a week in hospital, John was discharged and spent his last Christmas with his family before he was admitted to hospital again in January 2018, and died.

Caroline said: “We gave my dad a good send off and wanted to create a gravestone which we would remember him by.”

In July 2018 the family received the design which said: “In loving memory of a dear husband, dad and grandad, John Walden, died 28th January 2018, aged 65 years, always in our hearts.”

But a month later it was rejected in a letter from Reverend Clive Wylie, who they claim said the family has to use the more formal “father and grandfather”.

In a letter he said it wasn’t his “personal decision” but added: “This is a policy agreed between the churchwardens and parochial church councils across The Creakes Benefice

He added he explained the policy to the family prior to the funeral when he gave them a copy of the Diocese of Norwich Churchyard Regulations.

The regulations say: “Inscriptions and pictures on memorials should be simple, dignified and reverent and should have a clear Christian or traditional funerary symbolism or reflect the life and work of the deceased.”

The family and the reverend have exchanged letters and phone calls on the issue since Mr Walden’s burial, and currently, the grave remains bare.

The family said they want more information from the reverend about the decision, and is considering moving John’s body to another graveyard.

Caroline added: “We were left extremely shocked the vicar turned down our design and suggested that we use ‘father’ or ‘grandfather’ instead of ‘dad’ and ‘grandad’ because of a “policy”.

This was meant to be the next stage of our grieving process and would be a permanent memorial for our father.

“At a cost of £1,400, you should have some control over what you have on the stone.

“It was a fantastic design and was really nice to remember my dad by.”

“I can not see anything in the regulations which bans these words other than that they just have to be simple and dignified.”

Reverend Wylie has been contacted for comment.