Regardless of the type of disposition (burial or cremation), choosing a “final resting place” is an integral part of laying a loved one to rest. The cemetery is the most commonly selected location for a loved one to rest in perpetuity. Whether you are making this decision for yourself in advance of need or deciding for a family member who has died, you should know there are options available that will support your individual values.
Above Ground Burial – Cemeteries will often have a number of choices for above ground burial of both body and cremated remains. These include:
A Community Mausoleum which may be a garden structure or an indoor structure. A community mausoleum is made up of a number of individual adjacent spaces joined in a shared structure.
A Private Mausoleum is a stand-alone building that holds the remains of a family. Individual family members are buried in above ground crypts.
A Columbarium can be either public (shared structure) or private and are meant for cremated remains. Columbarium niche may be constructed with a glass door to display an urn or with a solid door usually with the date of death and the name of the deceased engraved in the stone.
In Ground Burial – This is the most common form of cemetery burial and is used for both full body casketed burial and the burial of cremated remains. Most cemeteries will require the casket or urn be placed in an outer burial container or vault at the time of burial. You may have the opportunity to choose among several options.
An Individual Plot is usually sold as the right to bury one individual person in either a casket or an urn. In some cases, cemeteries may allow for one casketed body and one urn to be buried in an individual plot.
Double-depth Plots offer the option of a deeper plot allowing for two burials that are one on top of the other. This option is not offered in all locations due to topographic limitations.
Family Lots are an option for family members or even friends who wish to be buried in close proximity to one another. In order to satisfy this wish, cemeteries often offer a number of adjoining plots in a group as a family lot. Some cemeteries will take it a step further and offer Private Family Estates. These are gated or hedged to offer privacy. They are really a cemetery within a cemetery.
Green Burial is earth friendly burial and may take several different forms. The body is usually not embalmed or embalmed with eco-friendly embalming fluids. Often the body is placed in contact with the earth either wrapped in shroud or placed in a bio-degradable container. Not every cemetery offers this option, but when it is important to an individual nearly every funeral home and cemetery can make some simple adjustments to their normal procedure to accommodate a family and provide a “greener”, if not strictly, green burial.
Cremation Gardens offer a garden like atmosphere for cremated remains which may be buried, scattered, or placed in a communal ossuary structure. Often these gardens will not permit monuments or head stones but will allow a flat marker. This is done to enhance the garden like atmosphere.
Not every cemetery will offer every option mentioned above and some may offer options not discussed here. It is prudent to speak with your funeral director or your cemetery service provider in advance of need. The weight of choosing a final resting place for a loved one can be heavy. Seeking out the help and guidance of these professionals before there is a time constraint is a wise choice.