After a family member passes away, loved ones will need to make, on average, over 70 decisions in the first 24 hours, one of the most important and common being the cemetery plot. Often this choice is made in haste, with a quick internet search and a few reviews read. Instead, we recommend making these decisions ahead of time. While it may be a rarely discussed topic, funeral planning can help family members feel in control of their end-of-life plans. It can also help families take a few of those hurried choices off their plates. So whether you’re looking to choose a cemetery for yourself or a loved one, here are a few thoughts on how to find the perfect final resting place.
Location may seem like a simple decision, but it isn’t always. Where you choose to purchase a burial plot decides many things: how often the family can visit, who is buried nearby, and if the body will need to be shipped. If your loved one wishes to be buried near a particular family member, that will obviously play a major role in which cemetery they will be buried. If they’d like to be buried in a specific town, perhaps their childhood home or a town with some significance, that will also be a determining consideration. If these elements are important, also consider whether it’s close enough for the family to visit the gravesite. These factors will hopefully help you narrow choices down to a specific area.
Types of Cemeteries
All cemeteries are not created equally. When choosing a cemetery, knowing what you’re looking for is important. Will your loved one be buried or cremated? Will they want their ashes scattered or interred? Some cemeteries have mausoleums, while others don’t. Some have scattering gardens for ashes, but many don’t have a designated scattering area. If religion is important, you may want to consider a cemetery with religious statues or imagery. The best way to know if a cemetery is right for your family is to take a walk through it and discuss options with the staff.
Cemeteries vary widely in terms of pricing; this is an important consideration for many families. Funeral planning can be a particularly important step in mitigating these costs. Families making last-minute decisions after a loved one has passed don’t always have the luxury of price shopping. When planning ahead, the cost can be considered and weighed against other factors.
Cemetery costs can be divided into three general factors: burial plot or mausoleum cost, cost of the burial itself, and maintenance fees. Burial costs include opening and closing the grave, and the cost of any headstone. The plot or mausoleum space and burial costs should be relatively straightforward; these are usually one-time costs paid directly to the cemetery. Maintenance fees might be slightly different. Some cemeteries build these fees into your one-time payment to them, known as perpetual care. Others may require arrangements with the grounds crew to maintain the plot, which could be an ongoing expense. However, these maintenance costs don’t usually cover repairs to personal items such as vases, benches, and other memorials.
Rules and Requirements
Just as cemeteries vary in cost, they also vary in requirements. They often have rules surrounding the headstone types, including size, shape, and design. Others might be particular about what personal items can be left at the gravesite. Still, others may have specific religious regulations that need to be followed. These rules might come directly from the cemetery authorities or state or local laws.
Cemeteries are commonly held to state laws regarding burial. An example is the requirements for burial vaults, which families may not always prefer, but is governed by the law in many states. Another example might be rules about leaving non-biodegradable memorials at the gravesite. Small animals can carry off these items, potentially posing a threat to the local environment. When choosing a cemetery, rules can be a deciding factor. Check with cemetery staff for a list of requirements and regulations before making a final decision.
No matter what you choose, putting thought into these matters before a family member passes away is always our recommendation. Thinking ahead gives you the gift of time. If your family member is open to discussing funeral arrangements, it also gives you the gift of their thoughts and opinions. You’ll be able to weigh the cost against location and burial regulations while being able to talk to multiple locations. Give yourself that gift. Start the pre-planning process now and enjoy peace of mind later.