Burial - Information & Answers

What does burial mean? Is burial expensive? Here are questions, answers, and information about burial.

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Burial is dedicated to providing services related to advance directives, including our MyFuneral™ service, which allows people to specify in advance that they wish to be buried under ground or buried at sea.  These wishes will be communicated to a personal "Keyholder®", chosen by the member, when the time is right.  Below are some questions and answers related to body burial.  All of these issues are handled easily by the MyFuneral™ service.

What exactly is meant by burial?

Body burial or direct burial simply means placing a body in the ground after death. The term now also covers storing the whole body above-ground in a mausoleum, vault or other type of crypt. While cremation is gaining popularity, most bodies in North America are buried. They are generally placed in some type of receptacle placed in the ground or stored above ground.

I've heard about embalming. What is that and do I need it?

Embalming is primarily done to disinfect and preserve the body. Disinfection is important for all who have to handle the remains, and for public safety. Deaths due to highly contagious diseases put funeral directors and others who come into contact with the remains at a very high risk of contracting the same diseases. Secondly, it has been a tradition for friends and family to gather to view the body and pay tribute to a family member or friend that has died . This is to console the family on their loss, and to express sympathy to them. Without embalming, most remains become un-viewable within a short time. Embalming is not mandatory, but without specific instruction it is usually done. There are also certain regulations to be followed if public transportation is involved.

Is burial expensive?

The service charges for direct body burials alone should be minimal. But burials customarily involve a number of other procedures which can be costly including obtaining the death certificate, transporting the body, and purchasing a casket.

If I simply want to be buried right away, what would happen?

If this is your preference, then the body would buried shortly after death, usually in a simple container. Normally, no viewing or visitation is involved, so no embalming is necessary. A memorial service may be held at the graveside or later. Direct burial usually costs less than a "traditional" full service funeral. Costs include the funeral home's basic services fee, as well as transportation and care of the body, the purchase of a casket or burial container and a cemetery plot or crypt. If the family chooses to be at the cemetery for the burial, the funeral home often charges an additional fee for a graveside service.

What happens at a more traditional burial?

A "traditional" funeral usually includes a viewing or visitation and a formal funeral service. A hearse is used to transport the body to the funeral site or cemetery for burial. It is generally the most expensive type of funeral. In addition to the funeral home's basic services fee, costs often include embalming and dressing the body, rental of the funeral home for the viewing or service, and use of vehicles to transport the family if they don't use their own. The costs of a casket, cemetery plot or crypt and other funeral goods and services also must be factored in.

Can I be buried anywhere?

You cannot simply be buried anywhere. There are restrictions associated with burial on private land (for example, there must be no public health concerns), but there is no law expressly forbidding it. Consent must be gained from your local authority. 

What if I have decided to donate my body or organs after my death?

If you have chosen to donate organs, you still have the choice of body burial. However, if you have chosen to donate your whole body to medical science then the medical school will usually cremate it and bury or scatter the ashes in a specified plot. However, most institutions will agree to return the remains to a friend or family member for final disposal - -usually within a year or two. Note that in some cases, a body donation may be rejected because of the condition of your body or simply because it is not needed. In either case, you should indicate your preferences for whether your body should be cremated or buried.