Cemeteries are the traditional location for burying bodies or cremated ashes. Most cemeteries offer the options of ground burial or above-ground entombment in a mausoleum crypt or columbarium (for cremated remains). In addition to cemeteries, there are a few other places you can be buried, including on your own property or in a green burial ground or green cemetery.
A cemetery will manage many of the tasks surrounding the burial or interment, as well as other long-term tasks related to the care and maintenance of the burial site. These tasks may include:
- Preparing the burial site
- Placing the body in the grave or mausoleum crypt, or placing the cremated remains in the columbarium niche
- Closing the grave, mausoleum crypt, or columbarium niche
- Installing a headstone or grave marker
In addition, cemeteries will obtain the necessary licenses to bury the body and will keep the burial records. After the burial, the cemetery will maintain the gravesite, including maintaining any grass and landscaping around the grave.
Figuring out what kind of cemetery you want to be buried in
Before you start looking into your cemetery options, it may be helpful to get a sense of what you want in a cemetery. As cemetery purchases are often very expensive, having a clear sense of what you want can help you more easily find what you’re looking for and advocate for yourself when making arrangements.
- What city do you want to be buried in?
- If there are multiple cemeteries within the city you want to be buried in, where in the city would you like to be buried?
- If you want to make sure that family and friends can easily visit your grave, is there a cemetery that is more convenient than the others?
Type of cemetery
- Do you want the cemetery you’ll be buried in to have any cultural, religious, or other affiliations?
- Is it important to you that the cemetery is solely dedicated to your cultural, religious, or other needs, or would a dedicated area within a conventional cemetery be acceptable?
Rules and requirements
- Do the cemetery’s rules and requirements meet your needs?
- For example, do the cemetery’s rules regarding headstone style meet your vision for your headstone?
- Does the cemetery allow the types of personal memorials or decorations that your family might like to place on your grave?
- Where in the cemetery would you like to be buried?
- If you want to be buried in the ground, would you like the plot location to be easily accessible by car, shaded by trees, or have other features?
- If you want to be entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium, where in the mausoleum or columbarium would you like to be interred (eye-level, middle of room, etc.)?
- If you are interested in purchasing multiple plots at once, does the cemetery have a grouping of plots available?
- How much does the plot, mausoleum space, or columbarium niche cost?
- What are other costs associated with the interment, such as opening and closing of the grave, headstone or grave marker installation, “perpetual care” or “endowment care” fees, etc.?
To learn more about different types of cemeteries, see our article How to Choose a Cemetery.
To find a cemetery, use our resource Guide: Finding a Cemetery.