Guide: Finding A Cemetery
Cemeteries are the traditional location for burying bodies or cremated ashes.
Most cemeteries offer the options of burial in the ground or entombment in a mausoleum or crypt. For cremated remains, most cemeteries offer entombment of cremated remains in a columbarium niche (equivalent to a mausoleum) or burial of cremated remains in an urn garden or plot.
Cemeteries will handle:
- Preparing the burial site
- Placing the remains in the grave, mausoleum space, or crypt
- Installing a headstone or grave marker
In addition, cemeteries will obtain the necessary licenses to bury the remains and will keep the burial record. After the burial, the cemetery will maintain the gravesite, including maintaining any grass and landscaping around the grave.
The Four Types of Cemeteries
- Public cemeteries, the most common type, which are for-profit cemeteries (independently or corporately owned).
- Religious cemeteries, which are non-profit cemeteries owned by a religious organization.
- District or municipal cemeteries, which are non-profit cemeteries owned by the city or county.
- National or veterans cemeteries, which are government-run cemeteries for the burial of veterans and their families.
Factors that should be taken into consideration when choosing a cemetery include the type of cemetery, the cemetery location and facilities, the prices that the cemetery charges, the types of monuments that the cemetery allows, and whether the cemetery can meet any religious or cultural needs you may have.
If you are interested in finding a religious cemetery, speak with your local religious organization or clergy for recommendations of religious cemeteries in your area. Many churches and synagogues probably have a number of local cemeteries that they can recommend, and may be able to help you coordinate with a cemetery or may be able to sell you space in that cemetery.
The Funeral Home and Cemetery Directory has listings of over 6,000 public cemeteries. You can search for cemeteries by name or by location (state, county, and city). This resource is available via FuneralNet.com.
The International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association represents nearly 1,400 cemeteries in the United States. Member cemeteries can be found in the ICCFA’s directory of providers by selecting “Cemetery” as the “Type of Service” and then filtering results by cemetery name or location.
If you are interested in finding a district or municipal cemetery, be in touch with your local Funeral Consumers Alliance affiliate organization for information on district or municipal cemeteries in your area. As FCA affiliates are nonprofit organizations and usually run by volunteers, there may not be an FCA affiliate in your area.
The National Cemetery Administration maintains 131 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico. There are no national veterans cemeteries in Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, or Wyoming. There are also state veterans cemeteries, though there are no state veterans cemeteries in Alabama, Alaska, Florida, New Mexico, New York, or Oregon. There are, however, state veterans cemeteries in Guam and the Northern Marina Islands.
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