|Interment or Burial (Earth)
|Monuments and Perpetual Care
A permanent marker can be very expensive or inexpensive, depending on your
preference and the limitations of the cemetery. Planting flowers, a bush, or a tree are
long-lasting but low-cost memorials, when permitted.
Some cemeteries require monuments to be purchased only through them, or charge
an excessive handling fee if purchased elsewhere. You should expect a charge of
several hundred dollars for "setting" even a modest marker.
Some cemeteries bill a family annually for upkeep of a grave site, but it is now more
common for cemeteries to charge an initial fee for "perpetual care." These funds
should be placed in trust and not absorbed into the cemetery's general operating fund.
When you are dealing with a for-profit cemetery, be sure to ask for an accounting.
|When the term "traditional" is used it generally means:
• A time of visitation with the family, during which the casket may be present
("viewing" is usually done by the immediate family and friends during private time)
• A religious service in a church,
• A graveside ceremony for earth burial of the body or cremated remains.
The cost of funerals in recent years has risen to $10,000 or more, not including
cemetery and monument expense. Ask the funeral home, if you use one, whether
"professional services" are billed at a fixed fee, or by the hour. Schedule visitation
and services at the home or church to limit costs. If there is no mention of a funeral
home, your paper might print the obituary free. Perhaps a mortuary will be used only
to transport a body or for refrigeration until the time of the funeral.
In fact, in most states, family members can file the death certificate and permits,
allowing the family or a church group to handle all death arrangements without the
use of a mortician. However, some cooperating funeral directors will provide a
"traditional" funeral at a cost of under $1,000.
The caskets sold by most funeral homes, are usually marked up above wholesale
costs. Price lists, indicate the average retail cost of a casket is 2.5 to 5 times the
wholesale cost, with some mortuaries charging much more.
The "minimum container" often used for cremation, is equally appropriate for earth
burial. It is usually a simple wood box, or cardboard and wood, that should cost less
than $100. If the casket is to be present during visitation or the funeral, it can be
draped with cloth of the family's choosing.
Mortuaries which serve memorial societies usually use an attractive cloth-covered
particle-board casket, the cost of which
is included in the prices an affiliate has
arranged for members.
Many families have found personal
satisfaction in building and decorating a
casket together. If you have built a casket,
or purchased one from elsewhere, a funeral
home may try to charge a handling fee. The
Federal Trade Commission has prohibited
such "third-party handling fees," and made such charges illegal.
If you, or others close to you, own country property outside the village or city limits,
home body burial may be a low-cost option in many states. You can plan a
traditional church or home service, or even a graveside one. All local permits must be
in order first.
In some parts of the country, a plot in a church cemetery or a town-owned cemetery
is not too expensive, $100 to $300. There are for-profit cemeteries with sites costing
much. A lot in a national cemetery is free of charge to veterans and immediate
family, but there may not be one nearby with space.
When buying a lot in a commercial cemetery, care should be taken to examine the
contract. You may be purchasing only the right to be buried in that cemetery, not
necessarily in the lot shown to you. In a few instances, salespersons have sold more
"lots" than land available.
Many cemetery personnel will help family members make their own arrangements.
However, you should expect a charge of several hundred dollars to open and close
the grave site, especially on weekends or holidays. Grave diggers in many areas
expect a tip, so be sure to ask about anticipated charges.
Many cemeteries require a grave liner to keep earth from settling after burial. A
one-piece "coffin vault" serves the same purpose but costs about twice as much.
Some establishments do not mention the cheaper "liner" or even stock it.
|This topic focuses on all subjects, but not
limited to, topics dealing with interment or
earth burial. Explanation of the choices that
are available, and what to consider about
those options before or after. It also
includes sections about cemeteries,
costs,caskets, grave markers, perpetual
care and more.
|Some cultures place the dead in tombs of various sorts, either individually, or in
specially designated tracts of land that house tombs. Burial in a graveyard is one
common form of tomb. In some places, burials are impractical because the ground
water is too high; there tombs are placed above ground, as is the case in New
Orleans, Louisiana. Elsewhere, a separate building for a tomb is usually reserved
for the socially prominent and wealthy. Especially grand above ground tombs are
called mausoleums. Other buildings used as tombs include the crypts in churches;
burial in these places is again usually a privilege given to the socially prominent
dead. In more recent times, however, this has often been forbidden by hygiene
Burial was not always permanent. In some areas, burial grounds needed to be
re-used because of limited space. In these areas, once the dead have decomposed
to skeletons, the bones are removed; after their removal they can be placed in an
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