The worst nightmare for a parent is to lose their child. Max Corbett-Gardener, from Malvern, Worcestershire, England, was just four years old when he passed away in 2013 due to complications with his epilepsy. Max’s mother, Jo Corbett-Weeks, spent some time saving close to $4,580 in order to give her son a special headstone in the cemetery: something that would reflect the kind of special kid he was. She chose a star-shaped headstone that is being hugged by a teddy bear.
Max’s mom told the BBC, “I chose a star-shaped stone because I wanted something suitable for Max—something personal. This stone is just so perfect for my poor little chap.” The headstone took about three years to get paid for and to be officially placed on the grave site. Finally, on his 7th birthday, it happened. Three days later, however, it was removed from the cemetery by the Malvern Town Council.
‘I was totally unaware this was going on. The council did not contact me and it was the stonemason who told me he’d been ordered to remove it. I feel upset, distressed and angry. We have been through so much as a family. I could understand if the grave was uncared for or unsightly, but it isn’t.”
She reported the incident to Malvern Town Council, the authority responsible for the graveyard, only to find that they would not reinstall the headstone.
Jo had opted to bury her son next to other relatives in the graveyard, instead of in the childrens’ cemetary. When she erected Max’s special star headstone, the council received complaints from another family.
“We have a conformity of shapes in our lawn cemetery,” the council said in a statement. “We were contacted by people who objected to the shape. It was a very difficult decision to remove it, but one we had to make straight away.”
They continued: “The stonemason in this situation did not have permission to put the stone up — and the stone is not in keeping with the graves in that area. By not following the correct process, he has caused considerable distress to both families.”
The council say they are now working with the family to redesign Ma’s headstone. But for Jo and her family, the situation has caused their grief to be renewed.
“The headstone meant a lot to me and the family, but now we are fighting to have it put back. It’s a horrible situation. We just want to have somewhere to grieve.”