Story published 1 June 2023 by Jo Abi on 9Honey.com
Edwina and Anthony Symonds have grown used to seeing items left at their son Seb's memorial plaque, and often leave trinkets there themselves.
After losing their son in 2018 when he was 10 months old, the Sydney couple organised for a plaque to be fixed to a sitting rock located at a popular walk in the city's northern beaches – a place they frequented with Seb before his death.
"Seb died when I was still on maternity leave, and we'd always walk there, so it's our special place. I was 17 weeks pregnant with my second son Dash when Seb died," Edwina says of the location of the plaque. We decorate it on his birthday or on the anniversary of his death and at Christmas time. It's on a public walk. It's a big rock we can sit on."
"Previously we've had little bibles left there, or small rocks that have been painted by children, or feathers," Edwina tells 9Honey, adding that the family usually takes the items with them as they go along
This week, however, someone has superglued a religious cross on the plague.
"It's obnoxious," Edwina says.
She was informed of the unwanted addition to her son's plaque by a friend, and shared a post on local Facebook page 'Northern Beaches Living' to explain her distress.
"This isn't about catholicism, it's vandalism that I take issue with. To be fair, I'm Catholic and I used to go to church every week when I was younger. I don't have a problem with religion," she said.
"I think I captured it well with what I wrote. Don't superglue your religion to me or my son."
Anthony also posted in the comments section of the post, writing, "Ant here, Ed's hubby and pappa of The Seb. Nice to see all the awesome support on here, great community spirit.
This isn't the first time the couple has dealt with vandals at their son's memorial. Three years after Seb's death, someone cut down a string holding trinkets left for their son.
Edwina described that painful experience on her blog 'The Griefy Way'
While many of the comments expressed distress at news of her son's death, Edwina was quick to explain they are managing to live with their grief, and that Seb's death isn't the issue at hand.
"I'm sure they had good intentions, but their execution is shit-house," Edwina tells 9Honey.
"I haven't been down there yet to remove I, you have to walk one kilometre along the walkway to see it. I'll have to go to Bunnings to get some bond remover or something. But I have two young kids, so it's just another thing on my list."
Edwina and Ant are parents to Dash, four, and Elodie, two. Seb would now be five, had he lived.
The mum's Facebook post was screenshot and shared on Reddit's 'Sydney' thread, where many followers left helpful suggestion as to which products she should use to unfasten the cross.
Others have offered to set up a crowdfunding page to replace the plaque or offered solutions to getting it removed.
"I'm just honestly trying to wrap my head around this. It's fine to be religious, I have no problem with that - it's the super glue. It's just a dickhead move."
"I grew up Catholic. Seb was baptised and we also had a funeral in a church for Seb. He was blessed by a priest in the hospital before he died too. So it's not about the religion."
Edwina said while this situation is a nuisance, she'd like to focus on the positives, namely people's kind comments and suggestions. She'd also like to highlight organ donation, with the couple having donated Seb's organs following his death.
"If there's one thing to add, and I add it to everything I do, is to spread the word about organ donation," Edwina says.
"Check you are an organ donor and tell your family about your wishes. Seb's kidneys were sewn together and transplanted into an adult who had been on dialysis for three years. We are proud of the legacy Seb has left for us to share, so anything that can highlight how special he really is, is a win for our advocacy and his legacy".
Register to become an organ donor by visiting Donate Life.