July 11, 2011

Cemetery visitor for hire

A new niche.

For Hire: A Visitor to the Grave of Your Dearly Departed

A paralegal and married mother of three trying to earn extra money in a tough economy, Mrs. Marotta-Lopriore, 57, embarked last month on a new career: cemetery visitor for hire.

Advertising in a local newspaper and in fliers she distributed in surrounding towns, she offered her services: “Continue your signs of love and respect for your loved ones who have passed. If you are unable to visit your loved ones for whatever reason, I can help. Whether you need flowers delivered, prayers said or just a status on the condition of the site, I will visit any Westchester or Putnam County cemetery on your behalf. Proof of my visit will be either e-mailed or sent to you through the mail.”
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“I had never heard of anyone doing anything like this, and I just thought it was a great idea,” said Ms. Akyildiz, who was five months pregnant when Cristy was stillborn. “Though I do go to the cemetery to see my daughter, I’m often busy with work and my two other children and I can’t always get there.”

Mrs. Marotta-Lopriore, who lives in Hastings-on-Hudson and charges $25 to visit a Westchester cemetery and $35 for the longer trips to Putnam County, said, “Some people might look at visiting cemeteries as creepy or morbid, but those are people who are capable of visiting their loved ones.”

“But what about the people who are too old or too busy to go and pay their respects?” she asked. “What about the people who have moved out of state?”

Some religious-based services for the dead do exist. A small percentage of observant Jews in the United States partake in pre-burial rituals that include washing and clothing the bodies, and some Jewish volunteer groups keep constant vigil beside the deceased until burial. Also, Catholic priests say Mass for the dead. But Mrs. Marotta-Lopriore may be the first to have tapped into this particular niche market.
Posted by Jill Fallon at July 11, 2011 7:04 AM | Permalink