Burial Services

Traditionally, a burial service involves a visitation, followed by a funeral service in a funeral home, church, or other place of worship. The casket is typically present at both 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 it may be entombed in a crypt inside 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.

Cemetery Types

Monumental cemetery: A monumental cemetery is the traditional style of cemetery where headstones or other monuments made of marble or granite rise vertically above the ground.  There are countless different types of designs for headstones, ranging from very simple to large and complex.

Lawn cemetery: A lawn cemetery is where each grave is marked with a small commemorative plaque that is placed horizontally at the head of the grave at ground-level.  Families can still be involved in the design and the information contained on the plaque, however in most cases the plaques are a standard design. 

Mausoleum: A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or people.  A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the mausoleum.  The most famous mausoleum is the Taj Mahal in India.

Columbarium: Columbarium walls are generally reserved for cremated remains.  While cremated remains can be kept at home by families or scattered somewhere significant to the deceased, a columbarium provides friends and family a place to come to mourn and visit.  Columbarium walls do not take up a lot of space and it is a cheaper alternative to a burial plot.

Natural cemeteries: Natural cemeteries, also known as eco-cemeteries or green cemeteries is a new style of cemetery set aside for natural burials.  Natural burials are motivated by the desire to be environmentally conscience, although natural burials can be performed at any type of cemetery, they are usually done in a natural woodland area.  Conventional markings such as headstones are generally replaced with a tree or a bush or a placement of a natural rock.

Burial FAQ

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

For the commercial cemeteries, 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 and for the rural family owned or church owned cemeteries the funeral home usually contracts with a vault company to perform the these tasks.

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 or vault companies under contract for a funeral home.

What happens when a cemetery runs out of land?

When a cemetery runs out of land, it will continue to operate and serve the community. 

Must I purchase a burial vault?

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

Who are funeral directors and what do they do?

Funeral directors are in charge of all the logistics following a death.  They complete all the necessary paperwork, make arrangements for the transportation of the body, and put into action the choices made by the family in regards to the funeral service and the final resting place of the body.  Beyond the logistics, funeral directors are there to provide moral support and guidance for someone coping with death.

How much does a funeral cost?

The cost of the funeral varies depending on the wishes you have.  The average cost of a funeral is between $7,000-$9,000, however, the most basic of services can cost less.  The cost includes all professional services including transportation, embalming and other preparations, the use of a facility for the ceremony, and the purchase of a casket, vault or urn.

What do I do if I am not satisfied with the way a funeral was handled?

If you have any issue with a funeral home and you cannot work out the issue with management of the funeral home please call the Maryland State Board of Morticians (410) 764-4792.‚Äč

There are alternatives to burial. See Cremation Services