Mother upset about movie in Arlington Heights cemetery

Updated 8/11/2018 11:12 PM
  • Leyla Durmus poses with her son, Kaya Dikmenli, at a Chicago Blackhawks game in 2015. Kaya died on the morning of Christmas Eve in 2016.

    Leyla Durmus poses with her son, Kaya Dikmenli, at a Chicago Blackhawks game in 2015. Kaya died on the morning of Christmas Eve in 2016. Courtesy of Leyla Durmus

After the tragic death of her 21-year-old son in late 2016, Leyla Durmus chose an Arlington Heights cemetery as his final resting place.

It's a decision she now regrets after the cemetery, Memory Gardens, was scheduled to host an outdoor movie viewing of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" on Saturday night.

"I'm sad and disappointed," Durmus said. "Had I known this was going to be a thing there, I never would have chosen Memory Gardens."

The Buffalo Grove resident said she plans to protest before the event at the cemetery, 2501 E. Euclid Ave.

Memory Gardens' owner, Dignity Memorial, said in a statement that the movie will be shown in a field where no graves are located and that similar events at other cemeteries in the Chicago area have been well received.

Attendees were invited to bring blankets, chairs and food, according to a flier for the free event. Proceeds from nonalcoholic drink sales benefit the Arlington Heights Historical Museum.

"Our intent in hosting these types of events for those with loved ones interred at our cemetery and members of the Arlington Heights community is to serve as a gathering place and to foster a sense of community among Arlington Heights residents," the release said. "We apologize for any misunderstanding and encourage anyone with concerns to contact us directly."

Durmus' 21-year-old son, Kaya Dikmenli, died of a heroin overdose on the morning of Christmas Eve in 2016.

"I moved through my grief and then things like this come up," Durmus said. "It brings me back to that day."

Durmus said that the event should have been held at the museum or a park. "It's disrespectful," she said.

Durmus said she had been trying to stop Saturday night's event since hearing about it in the Daily Herald.

"They say the dead don't feel anything," she said. "The living do. And until someone walks in my shoes and loses the only child they have, they don't know what I'm feeling."

At the start of the film Saturday, Durmus was posted on the route vehicles drove to get to the movie screen, but not near the roughly 30 attendees.

"It's different; I've never been to a graveyard at night," Buffalo Grove resident Mary Moodhe said.

Felix Garkisch of Arlington Heights lives near the cemetery and was interested in the film.

"My mom found the event," Garkisch said. "We don't get many opportunities like this."

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