Family or religious traditions are often a factor for choosing burial.  Additionally, you may need to consider whether embalming will be needed, the type of casket selected, whether an outer container is required, and which cemetery will be used.

You also have the option of having the remains interred (earth burial), or entombed in a crypt inside a mausoleum (above ground burial).  

Cemetery Types

Monumental cemetery: This is the traditional style of cemetery where headstones or other monuments made of marble or granite rise vertically above the ground.  The designs for headstones are limitless, ranging from very simple to large and complex.

Lawn cemetery: In a lawn cemetery, graves are marked with a small, ground-level commemorative plaque placed horizontally at the head of the site.  Families can be involved in the design and the information contained on the plaque, but the marker's size, shape and material conform to the cemetery's 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 may be kept at home or scattered in an area of special significance to the deceased, a columbarium provides a permanent place for family and friends to visit.  Columbarium walls do not take up a lot of space, and this is a more affordable alternative to a burial plot.

Natural cemeteries: Natural cemeteries, also known as eco-cemeteries or "green" cemeteries, offer a natural burial option for the environmentally conscientious person. The area's nearest natural cemetery is the Green Springs Cemetery in Newfield, New York.  More information can be found at www.naturalburial.org or at www.facebook.com/greenspringsnaturalburial/info

Burial FAQs

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

Opening and closing fees can include any number of services provided by the cemetery.  Typically, these include: administration and permanent record keeping (determining ownership, obtaining permission and the completion of other documentation which may be required, entering the interment particulars in the interment register, maintaining all legal files); opening and closing the grave (locating the grave and laying out the boundaries, excavating and filling the interment space); installation and removal of the lowering device; placement and removal of artificial grass dressing and or coco-matting at the grave site; leveling, tamping, re-grading and sodding the grave site; and leveling and re-sodding the grave if the earth should settle over time. 

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.  Because of safety concerns surrounding the use of heavy machinery on cemetery property, as well as the protection of other gravesites, opening and closing of the grave is almost always performed by cemetery grounds personnel only.

Why is having a place to visit so important?

To remember and to be remembered are natural human needs.   Throughout human history, memorialization of the deceased has been a part 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 find closure and begin the healing process.  A permanent memorial in a cemetery provides a focal point for remembrance and memorializing the deceased.  It also offers a dignified treatment of a loved one’s mortal remains.

What happens when a cemetery runs out of land?

When a cemetery runs out of land, it continues to operate and serve the community in perpetuity. 

In a hundred years will this cemetery still be there?

Generally speaking, cemetery grounds are set aside to exist in perpetuity.  There are cemeteries that have been in existence for hundreds of years.

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

There is no law that specifies an amount of time for burial.  Considerations that affect timeline may include: the need to secure all permits and authorizations, the ability to notify next-of-kin, preparation of the cemetery site, and religious customs.  Public heath laws may limit the maximum length of time allowed to pass prior to final disposition.  Ask your funeral director for more details.

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

No.  Embalming is a choice which depends on many factors.  For example, will there be an open casket viewing of the body? Will there be an extended time between death and interment?  Public health laws do require embalming for the body to be transported by air or rail.

What options are available in addition to ground burial?

Besides ground burial, some cemeteries offer interment in lawn crypts or entombment in mausoleums.  In addition, most cemeteries provide choices for those who have selected cremation.  These often include placement of cremated remains in a niche of a columbarium or interment in an urn space.