Considering a Cemetery for Your Loved One’s Ashes
by Kristal Borjas April 09, 2021 5 min read
Cremations have become much more commonplace with people choosing to forgo traditional burial for their loved ones. Cremation allows a myriad of options for a loved one’s ashes that don’t just include burial or scattering. As we explore what options there are for placing cremains in a cemetery, we’ll also look into reasons why families will choose to do so.
What Are the Options for Ashes in a Cemetery?
A Traditional Ground Burial
The ashes of a loved one can most certainly be placed into the ground in the form of a traditional burial. Instead of a casket however, the ashes can be buried within an urn instead.
It is important to consult the individual cemetery to determine their regulations and rules regarding burial. Although uncommon, some facilities may have strict rules about what can be placed into the ground at their cemetery. Most often, you’ll find cemeteries are flexible and willing to work with families during their time of mourning.
Much the same as a burial of a non cremated person, urn burials offer the opportunity for personalization. When a cremation urn is placed into the ground, many families will have a tombstone made and placed at the burial plot in remembrance. This helps to solidify the space for revisiting and can make the act of remembering and memorializing someone all the more concrete.
Like mausoleums, columbaria are above ground structures that are built specifically for the placement of urns containing cremains. Similar to how a gravesite serves as a physical place of tribute, the advantage of a columbaria is that it provides a designated space to return and visit a loved one.
Each space is referred to as a “niche” and families have the option of purchasing multiple so as to have a “plot” of sorts for their family. The structural design varies according to cemetery, some contain traditional niches, which appear as sealed walls with the deceased names engraved, i.e. headstone, others are rather informal and are simply specialized lockers with designated keys.
Placement in a Mausoleum
A mausoleum is a less common option for cemeteries, especially those that are more modern or recently constructed. They are often entire structures, generally modest in size (although some are significantly larger, particularly those for famous families or royalty). Typically, they’ve been used in more ancient civilizations to permanently entomb historical figures or monarchs and nobility. They function as a tomb for the remains of multiple members of a family or those who are to be given special burial rights.
A family might purchase or invest in a mausoleum for their lineage, and they can stay in the family line for hundreds of years. Some might prefer to buy into a special space within a mausoleum, as they aren’t always exclusive to a single family.
As a free-standing structure, they act as a burial chamber. There are caskets entombed in the walls, in the ground, or in internal structures within the mausoleum. Visitors are able to walk through the halls and rooms of a mausoleum to pay their respects to loved ones.
Some mausoleums exist as structures that have lower levels that extend into the earth. When the structures go below the ground, they’re more often referred to as crypts or catacombs. These underground vaults may or may not be part of the mausoleum itself.
In order to have a loved one placed within a mausoleum, families will need to do specific research in their area. Not all mausoleums have space or are accepting new families. They are typically going to be more costly than a traditional burial, as well. Some mausoleums may have restrictions on ashes being placed in there as well.
With placement inside a mausoleum, the remains of a loved one aren’t placed into the ground, which means they may be moved if need be. There is also the option to visit it without being exposed to the outdoors. Lastly, the remains are not as exposed to the elements as they would be if they were buried in the ground or left outdoors.
What To Consider
Every family must decide what’s best for them or a loved one upon passing, but to help ease the burden of such a decision, here are a few considerations and some common reasons families decide to use a cemetery as the final resting place for cremated loved ones.
Cremation is widely known as the more affordable option in comparison to a traditional burial. The general costs of burial typically include the preparation of the body through embalming and dressing, storage of the body while awaiting burial, transport to the cemetery, the casket, plot, etc. On the other hand, cremation offers a less expensive alternative- allowing families to have more options for final disposition of the ashes.
The burial of an urn versus a full casket is less expensive and more manageable. Overall, thousands of dollars can be saved when a family chooses to cremate and bury an urn. Read our blog,“Understanding The Costs of Funeral Services” if you’d like more details on the specific costs associated with each process.
Maintaining a sense of tradition is often another important consideration for people. Families may elect to place the cremated remains of a family member in a cemetery because there is a longstanding tradition of burial. Likewise, cemeteries may be chosen because of religious practices since cemeteries are considered sacred and hallowed ground. There is also the possibility that the deceased requested to be placed in a cemetery during their life or in their last will and testament.
Choosing to have a family member cremated rather than placed in a casket doesn’t mean that a family must abandon all sense of tradition. As the old world meets the modern world, the two can mesh cohesively to best suit the needs of everyone. This means that when you have a loved one cremated, you can still maintain the traditional formal ceremony of a burial and funeral at the cemetery itself.
Some families, especially those who have been rooted in an area for a long period of time, may have family plots already in place. Family plots are often expensive and reserved decades in advance to house the remains of the members of a family all together. It offers a family the opportunity to know that their final resting place is together.
If your family has a designated plot, burying your loved one’s ashes offers the chance to visit and keep them close. Also, burying an urn typically saves space, which gives families the ability to bury more loved ones as opposed to having to purchase another plot.
Weighing the Options and Making the Choice for Your Loved One
There truly is no single right way to decide what is best for the cremation urn of your loved one. Take the time to discuss your options with key family members, or consult the preferences of the deceased to help make the best decision. Weigh your options and make sure you stay informed of what each one means, as well as what is important to you and your family, like having a space to visit or being able to have multiple family members remain in a final resting place together. The choice may be hard to make but can bring profound peace and calmness when it’s finally made.
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