Burial Services

Traditionally, a burial service involves a visitation, followed by a funeral service in a church, or other place of worship.  The casket is typically present at both these events, and it is your decision on whether to have the casket open or not.  You have the option of having the remains interred (earth burial), or it may be entombed in a crypt inside a mausoleum (above ground burial).  Family or religious traditions are often a factor for choosing burial.  Decisions need to be made on whether the body needs to be embalmed, what kind of casket to use, what cemetery to use and what to put on the gravestone.

Cemetery Types

Monumental cemetery: A monumental cemetery is the traditional style of cemetery where headstones or other monuments made of marble or granite rise vertically above the ground.  There are countless different types of designs for headstones, ranging from very simple to large and complex.

Lawn cemetery: A lawn cemetery is where each grave is marked with a small commemorative plaque that is placed horizontally at the head of the grave at ground-level.  Families can still be involved in the design and the information contained on the plaque, however in most cases the plaques are a standard design. 

Mausoleum: A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or people.  A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the mausoleum.  The most famous mausoleum is the Taj Mahal in India.

Columbarium: Columbarium walls are generally reserved for cremated remains.  While cremated remains can be kept at home by families or scattered somewhere significant to the deceased, a columbarium provides friends and family a place to come to mourn and visit.  Columbarium walls do not take up a lot of space and it is a cheaper alternative to a burial plot.

Burial FAQ

What is opening and closing and why is it so expensive?

Opening and closing fees, also known by us as grave preparation, is a service provided by our independent contractor or by the cemetery itself.  Grave preparation includes (locating the grave and laying out the boundaries, excavating and filling the interment space); installation and removal of the lowering device and the use of grave equipment including a tent, chairs and lowering device for the casket and outer burial container.  Typically, the opening and closing fee of cemeteries that operate for a profit tends to me more. Their fees includes the opening and closing as well as their administrative fees.

Can we dig our own grave to avoid the charge for opening and closing?

The actual opening and closing of the grave is just one component of the opening and closing fee.  Due to safety issues which arise around the use of machinery on cemetery property and the protection of other gravesites, the actual opening and closing of the grave is conducted by our contractor or by the cemetery itself.

Why is having a place to visit so important?

To remember and to be remembered are natural human needs.  A permanent memorial in a cemetery provides a focal point for remembrance and memorializing the deceased.  Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture.  Psychologists say that remembrance practices, from the funeral or memorial service to permanent memorialization, serve an important emotional function for survivors by helping them bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin.  Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased is a dignified treatment for a loved one’s mortal remains, which fulfills the natural human desire for memorialization.

In a hundred years will this cemetery still be there?

We think of cemetery lands as being in perpetuity.  There are cemeteries throughout the world that have been in existence for hundreds of years.  Cemeteries that operate for a profit are required to set aside a certain percentage of funds to pay for future upkeep of the cemetery.  Local municipal and church cemeteries may have some perpetual care money set aside for future upkeep but many rely for donations from family members for the ongoing upkeep.

How soon after or how long after a death must an individual be buried?

There is no law that states a specific time from for burial.  Considerations that will affect timeline include the need to secure all permits and authorizations, notification of family and friends, preparation of cemetery site and religious considerations.  Public heath laws may have limitations on the maximum length of time allowed to pass prior to final disposition.  Contact your local funeral provider for more details.

Does a body have to be embalmed before it is buried?

No.  Embalming is a choice which depends on factors like if there is to be an open casket viewing of the body or if there is to be an extended time between death and internment.  Public health laws may require embalming if the body is going to be transported by air or rail.

What options are available besides ground burial?

Besides ground burial, some cemeteries offer interment in lawn crypts or entombment in mausoleums.  Private mausoleums are also an option but certainly prior planning would be necessary.

What are burial vaults and grave liners?

These are the outside containers into which the casket is placed.  Burial vaults are designed to protect the casket and may be made of a variety or combination of materials including concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, bronze, plastic or fiberglass.  A grave liner is a lightweight version of a vault which simply keeps the grave surface from sinking in.  Some cemeteries require an outer burial container to prevent the settling of graves over time. 

Must I purchase a burial vault?

Most large, active cemeteries have regulations that require the use of a basic grave liner for maintenance and safety purposes.  Either a grave liner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements.  Some smaller rural or churchyard cemeteries do not require use of a container to surround the casket in the grave.