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Homeowner Wants To Ask Grieving Family To Take Down Teen’s Roadside Memorial On Their Land

A wooden roadside memorial. In the background an unrecognisable car drives by the scenery.

Grief is a neverending process.

This pain is especially difficult when it comes to tragedy.

When life is extinguished too soon, the pain seems to hit differently.

And many loved ones need reminders to cope.

But those reminders don’t always help everybody.

Case in point…

Redditor merk35802 wanted to discuss their experience and get some feedback. So naturally, they came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

They asked:

“WIBTA for asking a family to remove their child’s death memorial from my property?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I recently purchased a home on a country road.”

“Five years ago some drunk local teenagers wrapped their car around a tree on the property and one died.”

“Their family created a roadside memorial with a 4-foot cross and wooden sign.”

“People come a few times a year and place flowers, notes, etc.”

“The memorial is on my property in front of the tree they hit, about 10 feet from the road.”

“I don’t want to see this memorial every day.”

“It’s depressing and reminds me that a tragedy happened here, which I don’t need.”

“I’m trying to get over some stuff.”

“I want this home to be a fresh, clean start.”

“But I’m also sensitive to the kid’s family and friends’ feelings.”

The OP was left to wonder:

“WIBTA if I asked the family to take down the memorial?”

Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Many Redditors declared OP was NOT the A**hole.

“Plant a hedge around it between it and your house so you don’t have to look at it. NTA.”

“It would mess with my head too.”

“You’ll feel terrible if you pull it down though.” ~ northerntropicaz

“Instead of a hedge, let them know how you feel about it.”

“Ask if they’d be willing to help you plant a lilac, peony, or some other flowering bush in its place.”

“This will help everyone to be able to see something beautiful every day instead of the sadness.” ~ Ok-Recognition9876

“Sounds like it’s not on the easement, it’s on OP’s actual property.”

“Is there any way it could be moved to the easement?”

“I think if there’s a history of allowing public use you can actually lose that land in court and have it declared public property.”

“I’m vaguely remembering other people’s problems and not every jurisdiction is the same.”

“Still, worth double checking.” ~ mitsuhachi

“That’s a fantastic idea and I am glad you like it.”

“I totally get how distressing it must be for you, and while you have the right to decide what goes on your property, five years may still feel way too soon for the relatives and friends.”

“If you can find a way to let the memorial stay and even provide some privacy for everyone, I am sure such a compassionate move will be much appreciated.” ~ AngelMillionaire1142

“There are plenty of times spontaneous memorials spring up.”

“At the location of the death.”

“At the school or workplace of someone who died.”

“At an otherwise special location.”

“But those are all supposed to be temporary.”

“Those are for the immediate mourning and needs of the people in the aftermath of a tragedy.”

“From there… that’s why we have burial sites, or urns to put in your house, or places to scatter ashes, or whatever.”

“This sounds awful maybe, but why does one tragic death get a public, permanent memorial like that, when the kid who dies of cancer at age 5 doesn’t get one?”

“Or the teenager who died in a crash but doesn’t get that roadside memorial set up?”

“Why do we need to treat just a few deaths as special enough to have a permanent reminder to us all, even on someone else’s private land?” ~ BigMax

“I don’t think the parents are thinking beyond their own loss.”

“I had a relative who died in a crash, and my entire family could point to the exact spot they passed, sans memorial.”

“Many of us can, even though we weren’t born at the time.”

“I always think of them when I pass that spot.”

“Memories can be kept alive in many ways, not just visually.” ~ Profreadsalot

“There are compelling reasons to remove this memorial.”

“What you have on your property likely constitutes ‘an attractive nuisance’; that is, something unprotected that may induce others to come onto your property.”

“Unfenced swimming pools or jungle gyms are examples.”

“As a real estate owner, you are liable for anyone who is hurt or injured on your property.”

“This is more grievous if you have…”

“A) something that encourages trespassing…”

“B) you have knowingly tolerated the trespass for a period of time; and…”

“C) you have done nothing to actively discourage the trespassing such as removing the attraction, fencing off the memorial, and posting No Trespassing/Private Property signage.”

“You also may be creating a right of access to others.”

“Your property insurer may want to dramatically increase your rates or drop you entirely because of risk.”

“Even if you can keep your coverage, it may not be enough if a single lawsuit goes against you.”

“You could lose the property and become bankrupt if insurance isn’t sufficient enough for a very large judgment.”

“We’ve seen this not infrequently in legal forums.”

“Guess what the first thing the new owners do?”

“Remove the liability.”

“You are likely reducing the market value of your real estate and endangering your own financial stability.”

“You can contact a lawyer if you truly want to carve out that property and donate it to the city.”

“But any decent lawyer is likely to advise you to remove the memorial as soon as possible.”

“Put up the No Tresspass/Private Property signs.”

“Cover the memorial with a tarp.”

“Perhaps you can contact the families to tell them the memorial is being removed for legal reasons (in case they want to come get it) but don’t let this drag out.”

“Let your tree go back to being a tree.”

“Let your grass go back to being the carpet for your feet.”

“Let your property become your home, sanctuary, and safe place for healing.”

“Good luck, OP.” ~ Avlonnic2

“A 4-foot cross is ridiculous.”

“How has it been allowed?”

“Is it on your land or public property?”

“The thing is if you put a complaint to the relevant authorities they would assume it is you and that would be worse.”

“Your NTA but how the hell to handle this one is mind-boggling.”

“You’re dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.”

“A hedge or fence that blocks it is a good idea.”

“But the family are out with the size of that cross.”

“Usually people just leave flowers at places like this.”

“Personally, I’d rather go to their grave than where they died in a horrible way.” ~ cakesforever

“This was going to be my suggestion too.”

“Some kind of barrier between the house and the memorial, even a solid fence.”

“The memorial will, eventually, go untended and forgotten.”

“At which point you could quietly remove or relocate it.”

“I mean a little stone or something sounds OK, a four-foot cross is a bit much.” ~ asdrunkasdrunkcanbe

“That’s not always the case.”

“I’ve seen a memorial that’s been taken care of for over 10 years now.”

“OP, first and foremost I wish you all the best on your new start of life.”

“Praying for this change to help you.”

“And secondly, I agree with everyone saying to put a hedge to block it.”

“Just make sure to keep it maintained so it doesn’t ruin the memorial for this family.” ~ WhiteSheDevil81

“NAH, have a conversation with the family.”

“Maybe offer to make a little flowerbed at the foot of the tree where these folks can come leave flowers, but that isn’t a glaring 4-foot cross that turns your private home into a public graveyard.”

“I do think it’s weird, especially as time goes on, to keep focusing on the spot the kid died, instead of celebrating a place that was significant to him while he was alive.” ~ Cartographer0108

“Can you contact the family?”

“Tell them you’re kindly and respectfully giving them advance notice that you’re planning on fencing your property, after which point, they won’t have access.”

“So they should consider where they’ll want to move the memorial.”

“And if they ask explain that your lawyer has advised that people should not have access over, around, or through your fence.”

“After it’s moved, well, if there’s a delay in the actual fencing, that’s not their business.”

“Best of luck.” ~ awgeezwhatnow

“Yeah, it’s awkward for sure, but NTA.”

“It’s your home and your property, and if you’re uncomfortable with it then that overrules the feelings of anyone else here.”

“They can leave notes and flowers at his grave, doesn’t need to be the location of this death.”

“Cemeteries serve the same purpose they are trying to use your property for.” ~ BulbasaurRanch

“I will say, that not everyone has a grave.”

“My brother doesn’t, he was cremated.”

“But there are other ways to memorialize someone that’s not a giant cross on someone’s property.”

“But I’ve also never been to the site of his accident, and I didn’t ever want to.”

“I guess I’m just saying your NTA, but a little patience and empathy while you navigate this with them will go a long way.” ~ SnakesCatsAndDogs

“NTA. Honestly, you might check your local laws because several places have outlawed those kinds of memorials since they make more hazards if another wreck happens there.”

“In other places, they’re only legal if the local district gave approval.”

“At any rate, it’s your property, therefore it’s private property and they can’t just come by and put things on the property without permission.” ~ Silaquix

“NAH. I saw someone propose a flower bed instead, you can also propose a bush, a tree… something significant for the kid or his family but that represents life and not death.”

“As a mother, I cannot imagine seeing my child die, even less surviving her if it happened, so I think you should talk to them and be a bit patient.”

“I totally agree that the big cross is morbid and disturbing for you.” ~ TwinZylander214

Well, OP, Reddit is with you.

It’s a sad, tragic situation. But it’s your property, and you get to choose what’s on it.

There are several options you have. Hopefully, one of them can work.