Burial FAQS

Traditionally, a burial service involves a visitation, followed by a funeral service in a church.  The casket is typically present at both of these events, and it is your decision on whether to have the casket open or not.  You have the option of having the remains interred (earth burial), or they may be entombed in a mausoleum (above ground burial).  Family or religious traditions are often a factor for choosing burial.  Decisions need to be made on whether the body needs to be embalmed, what kind of casket to use, what cemetery to use and what to put on the gravestone.


Burial FAQ


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

No.  Embalming is a choice which depends on factors like if there is to be an open casket viewing of the body or if there is to be an extended time between death and internment.  Public health laws may require embalming if the body is going to be transported by air or rail.


What are burial vaults and grave liners?

These are the outside containers into which the casket is placed.  Burial vaults are designed to protect the casket and may be made of a variety or combination of materials including concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, bronze, plastic or fiberglass.  A grave liner is a lightweight version of a vault which simply keeps the grave surface from sinking in.


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

Opening and closing fees can include up to and beyond 50 separate services provided by the cemetery.  Typically, the opening and closing fee 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 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 settles. 


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.  Due to safety issues which arise around the use of machinery on cemetery property and the protection of other gravesites, the actual opening and closing of the grave is conducted by cemetery grounds personnel only.

Why is having a place to visit so important?

To remember and to be remembered are natural human needs.  A permanent memorial in a cemetery provides a focal point for remembrance and memorializing the deceased.  Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component 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 bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin.  Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased is a dignified treatment for a loved one’s mortal remains, which fulfills the natural human desire for memorialization.


What options are available besides 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. 


How soon after a death must an individual be buried?

There is no law that states a specific time from for burial.  Considerations that will affect timeline include the need to secure all permits and authorizations, notification of family and friends, preparation of cemetery site and religious considerations.  Public heath laws may have limitations on the maximum length of time allowed to pass prior to final disposition. 


Must I purchase a burial vault?

Most large, active cemeteries have regulations that require the use of a basic grave liner for maintenance and safety purposes.  Either a grave liner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements.  Some smaller rural or churchyard cemeteries do not require use of a container to surround the casket in the grave.