If a family choses a burial for the final resting of the body of the deceased, many options are available by licensed care providers. Most of the items can be handled individually, but most are packaged together by either funeral home or cemeteries. Often funeral homes work together with cemeteries to provide convenience for the grieving family. While preparing for a burial can seem overwhelming, a systematic approach for organizing the decisions can be helpful.

This Essential for “Preparing for the Burial of a Loved One” corresponds with the Checklist under the same title. The Checklist should be kept close at hand during the days surrounding the funeral.

The first step in preparing for the burial of a loved one is to select a cemetery. Check with family members to see if a family lot had been reserved at a cemetery. If not, should cemetery plots be purchased near other family members?

If no family ties are necessary, make some decisions based upon the following questions:

  • Should the cemetery be close to the current home?
  • Should the cemetery be close to the hometown?
  • Is there a cemetery where other family members are buried?

In addition, what type of cemetery should be chosen? Should the cemetery be a public cemetery? Should the cemetery be a religious cemetery? Should the cemetery be a district or municipal cemetery? If the deceased was a veteran, should the cemetery be a national or veterans’ cemetery? Should a green cemetery or a home burial be considered? Green cemeteries take care to be friendly to the environment.

Are there cemetery rules or requirements that will affect the decision? Is there a type of headstone that will be required? Is access to the cemetery limited? Can flowers and other memorial gifts be used and displayed?

Another thing to consider in selecting a cemetery is the price. Several questions need to be addressed. What is included in the cost of the cemetery plot? What is included in the purchase of the “right of interment?” Traditionally this is the purchase of the burial plot or mausoleum space. Owning the rites means you have the right to be buried or to designate the burial of someone else in that place.

What are the fees for the opening and closing of the plot? This usually included permits, legal filing, record keeping and the use of a casket-lowering device. Is a burial vault included in the price? Is a grave liner included in the price? Is there a maintenance fee? Is it a one-time or annual fee? Is there a headstone installation fee?

Sometimes funeral homes and cemeteries work together in providing some of the services. If this is the case, find out what services are handled by which group. Will transportation of the body to the funeral home be provided? What services are included in the care and preparation of the body of the deceased? Will embalming be required? Does the state, county or cemetery have requirements and regulations?

What are the choices and prices of the casket? Does the price include an outer burial container?

Is there an allowance made for flowers for the casket? Will the transportation of the body to another site be included? Will the transportation of the body to the cemetery be included? Will a gravesite service be included?

Though many decisions need to be made, systematically going through the questions and options will take a little of the pressure off during this time of family crisis.