Choosing the Right Cemetery

Choosing the Right Cemetery

March 31, 2021 | by the NCPC

As aging seniors approach their final years of life, they are confronted with the task of choosing their final resting place. Most are unsure where to start when it comes to the cumbersome task of picking the right cemetery because of the many options involved in the decision-making process. Unfortunately, many do not prepare well enough in advance leaving their families behind with the difficult responsibility of deciding on the arrangements. This responsibility is often complicated by the emotional stress of losing a loved one. Consequently, it is important to prepare in advance.

Types of Cemeteries

Understanding the four most common types of cemeteries, Public, Religious, District, and VA, will help influence your decision.

Public Cemetery
Public cemeteries are for anyone regardless of religion or status. They are for profit and (because they are the most popular type of cemetery) you will have more to choose from.

Religious Cemetery
Religious cemeteries are nonprofit and reserved for members of their congregations. The best way to get information on utilizing a religious cemetery is to visit your local synagogue, mosque, or church house. Your religious leader can help you with the process and explain any rules associated with a religious burial.

District Cemetery
District cemeteries are nonprofit and government owned. Typically, these cemeteries are reserved for people who are destitute and cannot afford any of the other options. They are often full, making it difficult to find a plot. Contact your local town clerk for information on this option.

VA Cemetery
VA cemeteries are government owned and operated. If you or your spouse have been honorably discharged from the military, you could qualify for burial in a VA cemetery. If you are eligible, VA will provide the plot, opening/closing of the grave, perpetual care, headstone, and military honors at no charge. Honors for the veteran’s funeral will include the presence of 2 uniformed personnel at the burial portion of the funeral, the performance of 'taps', and the folding and presenting of the American Flag.


Perhaps the most important factor when choosing a cemetery will be deciding on the best location. You may want to choose a cemetery where your family members have been buried or where you are from. However, since a cemetery is where people to go to remember loved ones you may want to consider picking a location that will be convenient for surviving friends and family members to visit. If you have family members that will want to be buried near you, you will have to confirm that the cemetery has available plots. Take note of the aesthetics at the cemetery too. Do you notice any leaning headstones? Is the landscaping beautiful and well kept? Is this a place that is comfortable to visit? It’s important to pick a place with reverence and beauty where family members and friends can come to reflect in peace.

Cost and Rules

Of course, another prominent deciding factor will be cost. Prices will vary by cemetery and you will want to shop around for something that fits your budget. When searching for your cemetery location know that urban locations will typically cost more than rural locations. Inquire about payment plans that can help you pay off the costs over a course of time. Also, as you research pricing remember to ask about the various individual prices that cemeteries charge. These individual prices include burial plots, the burial itself (opening and closing the grave), and perpetual care. Perpetual care pertains to the maintenance of the grave site. Some cemeteries do not offer maintenance to the gravesite itself and the task falls to the family. You will want to know what is included before you purchase.

Just as every cemetery has their own pricing, they also have their own rules. These rules can affect the pricing and the aesthetic of the cemetery. For example, you may want to have a headstone above ground, but your preferred cemetery may only allow flat grave markers. One of the most important rules to check on before purchasing a plot is if they have any vault rules and regulations. A vault is what a casket is placed into before being buried. Some cemeteries require vaults and other do not. But it is important to find out before hand because vaults will add to the price.

Carefully Decide Now

Remember, taking time to decide now will ease the burden on your family members left behind. Once you have taken the mentioned items into account choose what feels best for you. Although setting up a memorial for yourself may feel strange or uncomfortable it is an incredibly important step to take. Memorials are an important part of providing closure for the grieving process. By having this step completed you with greatly ease potential burdens on your family. Thus, leaving them more time to mourn your passing and celebrate your life.

If you need assistance, Funeral PreNeed Planners and other members of the National Care Planning Council offer pre-planning services and final arrangement assistance in your area.

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