How to Choose a Grave Site

grave site

Deciding on a burial site is just as important as selecting a loved one’s funeral home and casket. You will have many options to choose from, but usually only one will feel right. Because a loved one’s grave site is a place you’ll visit more than once, you’ll want a spot that is easy to get to, safe and has a reliable staff who will keep the site maintained.

Selecting the Cemetery

During the planning stage of your loved one’s funeral, you need to select a cemetery. If the plot had not been chosen and paid for ahead of time, it may be up to you to decide where to go. There are four key features to keep in mind when narrowing down your choices:

  • Location: Many people choose to be buried in the city in which they live or where they grew up. This needs to be taken into consideration when choosing a cemetery and further a grave site. You also need to consider the cemetery’s proximity to family and friends who will probably be visiting the grave often.
  • Rules and Requirements: Each cemetery has its own rules such as specific religious requirements, types and sizes of headstones and monuments and the types of decorations and personal memorials that are allowed to be displayed. Make sure your needs fit into the cemetery’s regulations.
  • Prices: When selecting a cemetery, make sure to get a full price list of all current and future fees. A cemetery’s transparency is a good indicator of the company’s professionalism and ethics.

Types of Cemeteries

You also want to make sure you are selecting the right type of cemetery that you or your loved one wants. In the United States, there are about 109,000 cemeteries that are recognized by the U.S. Geological Survey. They include these types:

  • Church: These are cemeteries on church properties. This was more common during the Victorian era; however, there are still a few scattered throughout the country.
  • Public: These are owned by local government agencies and are open to the general public.
  • Private: These are typically owned and operated by the military, corporation, community organization, specific family or lodge. These are restrictive to the general public.
  • National: Veterans and active military who died in the line of duty can be buried in one of 119 national cemeteries in the United States. Specific rules and regulations apply.
  • Lawn Park: Instead of headstones, these cemeteries have a commemorative plaque place at the end of grave at ground level. The entire area is a large grassy area and families are usually restricted from leaving items on the graves.
  • Garden: This type of cemetery combines a mix of benches, trees and flowers giving the area a park-like feeling. It still allows grave markers and monuments.
  • Natural: Finally, this type of environmentally friendly cemetery has trees planted on top of where people are buried instead of headstones. They do not accept caskets or chemicals (embalming) for burial and feel that Mother Nature should recycle the nutrients of a person’s body to help with the plant life there.

Choosing the Plot

Now that you’ve chosen your cemetery, you need to select your plot or grave site. You have four types from which to choose:

  • Single Plot: This is the most common style that holds the remains of one casket.
  • Companion Plot: This style contains two adjoining plots sold together usually for a married couple. They can be side by side or one on top of each other.
  • Family Plot: In some cemeteries, you can purchase a small area and have it dedicated to your family. There is usually one large headstone engraved with all the name of the family members who will be buried there.
  • Plots for Cremated Remains: If your loved one were cremated, you can also have his cremated remains buried alongside a casket, if there is room. Some cemeteries allow multiple urns to be interred in a single plot.

If you are choosing a grave site for a child, you will want to find out if there is a special area for that. Many cemeteries often have specific sections for children commonly called garden areas, gardens of angels or something along those lines. This area allows special headstones, decorations and memorials. If this is not available, you can also inquire about portions of the cemetery that has room for smaller caskets as opposed to full-size ones.

Finally, if you do have several choices of plots, pick one in an area of the cemetery that you like. It could be under a tree, beside a lake or on top of a hill. You want a place where you will feel comfortable grieving.

Keep in Mind

Selecting a grave site after a loved one passes one can be heart-wrenching. If you aren’t sure you can pick one out by yourself, take another family or close friend along with you. If you need additional help selecting a cemetery or have questions about what to look for, our experts at can help.


2 thoughts on “How to Choose a Grave Site

  • By Skylar Williams - Reply

    Something I never thought about is cemeteries’ rules and regulations. I’ll have to be sure to always ask them about it before I go forward. I was thinking of getting a certain type of headstone, I hope it’s allowed.

  • By LNWeaver - Reply

    That makes sense that many people preferred to be buried in their home town. You’ll want to consult any last wishes to verify that. After you have a location be sure to research gravestones and monument types and make sure they match the plot restrictions of the site.

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