Graveyard Vs. Cemetery: An In-Depth Look | Mountain View (2022)

Losing a loved one introduces you to a whole new world of discussion and decisions, often on unfamiliar territory and involving vocabulary that might feel entirely foreign to you. A good funeral home will guide you through each decision, step by step, taking the time to help you understand all of the options available to you. This is often the case when it comes to choosing the burial site: a cemetery or a graveyard.

Most people use the terms interchangeably, and therefore, believe they represent the same thing. In fact, there are both similarities and differences between a cemetery and a graveyard, and the more you understand each, the more empowered you’ll be to make a good decision.

This article discusses the history, similarities, and differences between cemeteries and graveyards to help guide you as you work to honor the life of the deceased.

Church association

The primary difference between a cemetery and a graveyard has to do with its association or lack of association with a church. Graveyards are traditionally run by a church and located on the churchyard, or on the grounds or campus of a church. Cemeteries, on the other hand, are generally not associated with any particular church but are, instead, run by a council and located apart from any particular church.

Religious beliefs of the decedent

Because graveyards are generally run by a specific church, those buried in a graveyard were either members of that church or expressed a desire to be buried in that graveyard upon their passing. This means that graveyards are reserved for Christians. In contrast, cemeteries are open to those of all faiths (or no faith at all). Those who didn’t regularly attend any specific church or identify as belonging to any particular church body are often buried in a cemetery instead of a graveyard.

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Space requirements

Historically, churches were entirely responsible for the burial of the dead. However, over time, church graveyards began to run out of space and non-church-associated cemeteries were born to accommodate the need for space. For this reason, graveyards are often small, confined to the campus of the church, while cemeteries can be quite expansive.

Headstone guidelines

As a generalization, the rules and regulations for headstones are much more conservative in a graveyard than they are in a cemetery. For example, churches may require that the headstone be made of stone or granite, subdued in nature, and contain conservative, Christian inscriptions, whereas cemetery rules may be much more forgiving, allowing you to choose any headstone and inscription you’d like. Particularly elaborate headstones are often prohibited in graveyards.

Memorial maintenance

Whether you choose to lay your loved one to rest in a graveyard or a cemetery, you’ll most likely be responsible for maintaining the memorial. Maintenance of the gravestone includes:

  • periodic cleaning: wipe down the memorial using an appropriate gravestone detergent and a cloth that won’t scratch the finish
  • periodic inspection and maintenance: check the gravestone for cracks or other issues and arrange for necessary repairs; respond to safety concerns brought by cemetery owner if damage makes the gravestone or memorial unsafe
  • placement of flowers and plants: if permitted, maintain your loved one’s memorial by planting or placing flowers and plants, maintaining them, and removing them when they wither

Your funeral director should provide you with the regulations surrounding gravestone maintenance in the graveyard or cemetery you choose for the loved one who has passed away.

Cost of the burial plot

The cost of the burial plot is relatively consistent between cemeteries and graveyards. Differences depend on factors other than church association, including:

  • the size of the burial plot (single, companion, family, or cremated remains burial plot)
  • whether the cemetery is public or private
  • whether the cemetery or graveyard is in a rural area or an urban area (urban cemeteries are more expensive)
  • whether the graveyard or cemetery requires you to use a grave liner or burial vault; these can range from $400 – $5,000
  • the cemetery or graveyard’s interment fees, which are charged for opening and closing the grave, replacing the sod on top of the grave, and filing legal record of the burial

Visiting hours

A common question we answer is, “Is it illegal to go to cemeteries at night?” While the differences aren’t specific to graveyards or cemeteries, some burial grounds have established visiting hours accompanied by gates that close and lock after those visiting hours end for the day. It’s important to know what restrictions will be placed on visitation when you choose a burial plot.

Length of ownership

One similarity between graveyards and cemeteries is the length of ownership. If you’ve considered asking, “how long do you stay buried in a cemetery?” the answer is typically 100 years or more. Plots are sold for 50 to 100 years, but it’s unusual to remove anyone from the burial grounds unless the need for space requires it.

Questions to ask your funeral director

It’s important to have as much information as possible when you make the important decision about your loved one’s final resting place. Things to ask the funeral director before you proceed include:

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  • What are my options?
  • What rules and regulations apply in each case?
  • What is the cost of a plot in each burial ground we’re considering?
  • Which burial grounds require use of a grave liner or vault?
  • What are the fees for opening and closing the grave and other associated costs?

Things to consider when making a decision

There are a number of things to consider when determining your loved one’s final resting place. First, did your loved one share their wishes prior to their passing, preplan their funeral, or purchase a plot prior to their death? Or, if not, is their spouse or other immediate family member buried nearby? Is there a desire to bury them together?

Then, consider church membership. Was your loved one a member of a local church? Does that church have a graveyard on-site? Today, many churches do not have a graveyard, so church membership doesn’t immediately equate to a graveyard burial.

Think about the location of each burial ground and its proximity to those left behind. Who will likely visit the grave most often, and will they be near enough to do so? Are there loved ones still living in the area where the decedent will be laid to rest? Also, is there enough room for their companion, if applicable, when they pass away?

Of course, comparing your budget to the options available is an important step in the process. How does your budget compare to burial costs at the different burial grounds you’re considering?

Losing a loved one is challenging enough; staying fully informed and working with a compassionate team to make arrangements for burial and services can ease the burden on you. Visit Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery in Mesa, Arizona, today to learn more.

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One response to “Graveyard Vs. Cemetery: An In-Depth Look at the Differences”

  1. Alice Carroll says:

    (Video) A look inside the Royal Vault at Windsor Castle - who is buried in it with Prince Philip?

    September 22, 2020 at 12:59 AM

    You made a good point that being aware of rules and regulations for different funeral options are quite important. My grandmother is unfortunately on her deathbed right now and it might take a few weeks before she finally passes. Since she is quite religious, I think it would be best to take that into consideration when choosing a cemetery that can hold a service for her funeral.

    https://www.sosebeefuneralhome.com/

    Reply

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FAQs

How would you describe a cemetery? ›

A cemetery is a designated place where the remains of people who have died are laid to rest in specific, identifiable burial sites. Cemeteries are widely regarded as sacred places that are entrusted with respectfully caring for deceased individuals, along with the preservation of shared history.

What does cemetery mean in Greek? ›

The word cemetery is taken from the Greek word Koimeterion, which is the word for 'sleeping place. ' The word implies that the land has been set aside as a burial ground.

Where is the oldest cemetery in the world? ›

Taforalt cave in Morocco is possibly the oldest known cemetery in the world. It was the resting place of at least 34 Iberomaurusian individuals, the bulk of which have been dated to 15,100 to 14,000 years ago.

How long does a body stay buried in a cemetery? ›

When you buy a burial plot, often what you're actually doing is buying a Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial, which is the right to decide who is buried there for a set period of time (usually about 25–100 years).

What are the three types of cemetery? ›

The most common types of cemeteries include monumental cemeteries, memorial park, garden cemeteries, religious cemeteries, municipal cemeteries, VA cemeteries, full-service cemetery, combination cemeteries, and natural burial grounds or green burial grounds.

What is an empty grave called? ›

Did you know? The word cenotaph is derived from the Greek kenos taphos, meaning "empty tomb." A cenotaph is a monument, sometimes in the form of a tomb, to a person or group of persons buried elsewhere. Ancient Greek writings tell of many cenotaphs, although none of them survives.

How old is the first grave? ›

The oldest known graves in the world are in Levant Caves.

Various burial sites have been excavated in caves in these regions, all dating to the Middle Paleolithic, some as old as 120,000 years ago.

What is the love of cemeteries called? ›

Tombstone tourist (otherwise known as a "cemetery enthusiast", "cemetery tourist", "grave hunter", "graver", or "taphophile") describes an individual who has a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries, epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, art, and history of (famous) deaths.

Where is Adam and Eve buried? ›

The cave of Machpelah, in the West Bank city of Hebron, is the burial place of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah. According to Jewish mystical tradition, it's also the entrance to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve are buried.

Why do cemeteries face east? ›

Most Christians tend to bury their dead facing east. This is because they believe in the second coming of Christ and scripture teaches that he will come from the east. In this manner, they place their dead in a position so they can meet Christ face-to-face during his second coming.

Where is the first human buried? ›

At Qafzeh, Israel, the remains of as many as 15 individuals of modern humans (Homo sapiens) were found in a cave, along with 71 pieces of red ocher and ocher-stained stone tools. The ocher was found near the bones, suggesting it was used in a ritual.

Why do they cover the legs in a casket? ›

1. Because the Face Reflects the Humanity of the Deceased. When a client thinks about their memories of the person who has passed away – what do they see? Typically, they see the face of their loved one, their facial expressions, and their hand gestures – rarely do people place much sentimental value on legs and feet.

What happens to a grave after 75 years? ›

It's an understandable worry, but cemeteries in London can only reuse graves that are at least 75 years old. In the past, many graves were sold in perpetuity, but the Greater London Councils Act 1974 means this right can be reversed. Now, most graves are sold for between 10 and 100 years.

What happens to buried bodies after 100 years? ›

Eventually these too will disintegrate, and after 80 years in that coffin, your bones will crack as the soft collagen inside them deteriorates, leaving nothing but the brittle mineral frame behind. But even that shell won't last forever. A century in, the last of your bones will have collapsed into dust.

What is the house in a graveyard called? ›

mausoleum - a building for the housing of bodies in separate drawer,- or compirtments.

What is the opposite of graveyard? ›

There are no categorical antonyms for graveyard. The noun graveyard is defined as: A tract of land in which the dead are buried.

What is the keeper of a graveyard called? ›

A sexton is the office of the person or persons who are in charge of a cemetery. They are often referred to as the caretaker of a cemetery. Churches also have a sexton for the maintenance of the church building and/or the surrounding graveyard. In larger buildings, such as cathedrals, a team of sextons may be employed.

Why are men buried on the left? ›

Some believe this arrangement is no accident. Often, you'll find husbands are placed on their wife's right side. One theory is that long ago husbands decided their wives belonged on their left side, the side closest to their heart. Other theories hold this placement is a reflection of a couple's wedding day.

Why does a grave have to be 6 feet deep? ›

To Prevent the Spread of Disease

People have not always understood how diseases spread. During disease outbreaks, they may have feared that bodies could transmit disease. Still, this may be one of the reasons why people thought bodies should be buried 6 feet deep.

What makes a grave a grave? ›

A grave is a location where a dead body (typically that of a human, although sometimes that of an animal) is buried or interred after a funeral. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the purpose of burial, such as graveyards or cemeteries.

Why are headstones placed at the feet? ›

A footstone or foot marker is a flat square monument made of stone that sits at the foot-end of a grave. They were originally commissioned together with a headstone to signal the length of a burial site.

What is a walk in grave called? ›

A crypt is a space designed to hold the casketed remains of a person. A crypt may be built into the walls or floor of the mausoleum. Also, crypts may be placed underground. One or more crypts can be built into a walk-in mausoleum.

What is the stone on a grave called? ›

A headstone, tombstone, or gravestone is a stele or marker, usually stone, that is placed over a grave. It is traditional for burials in the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religions, among others.

When was death discovered? ›

ANCIENT TIMES

Archaeologists have found that as early as the Paleolithic period, about 2.5 million to 3 million years ago, humans held metaphysical beliefs about death and dying—those beyond what humans can know with their senses.

What does a buried body look like after 1 year? ›

If you were able to view a body after one year of burial, you may see as little as the skeleton laid to rest in the soil or as much as the body still recognizable with all the clothes intact.

Who buried their dead first? ›

The oldest known burial is thought to have taken place 130,000 years ago. Archeological evidence shows that Neanderthals practiced the burying of the dead.

What can you not do at a cemetery? ›

No running, yelling, or rolling around on the ground. This is not a place for childhood games. Don't let them play on any of the monuments. While it is good to get children used to paying respects at a cemetery, they often don't fully understand the meaning of everything in the cemetery.

Why do people talk to graves? ›

For some, talking to a deceased loved one at their grave is comforting, while others like to post messages on someone's Facebook after they have died. If you've ever found yourself having a conversation with someone you love who has passed away, don't worry.

Why do people go to cemeteries? ›

Today, people visit cemeteries to pay their respects to celebrities or other famous figures; honor those who have served in the military; find past relatives to fill in their genealogical background or simply enjoy the surroundings, architecture and peaceful paths many cemeteries around the world offer their visitors.

Where is God's body buried? ›

The tomb is at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It is the most widely accepted burial site of Christ. People previously thought the tomb had been no more than 1,000 years old.

Where is Eden located today? ›

The location of Eden is described in the Book of Genesis as the source of four tributaries. Various suggestions have been made for its location: at the head of the Persian Gulf, in southern Mesopotamia (now Iraq) where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers run into the sea; and in Armenia.

Who buried Adam when he died? ›

All three traditions mention that Seth was responsible for the burial of his father Adam since Abel had been expelled after his murder of Cain. Ubayy b. Ka'b: Your father Adam was as tall as a very tall palm, that is, 60 cubits. He had much hair, and his private parts were concealed...

Can a husband and wife be buried in the same casket? ›

Yes — Depending upon the cemetery's policy, you may be able to save a grave space by having the cremains buried on top of the casketed remains of your spouse, or utilize the space provided next to him/her. Many cemeteries allow for multiple cremated remains to be interred in a single grave space.

Can a body be buried without a casket? ›

If a burial vault is being used, there is no inherent requirement to use a casket. A person can be directly interred in the earth, in a shroud, or in a vault without a casket. There is no state law that dictates what a casket must be made of, either.

Which direction should a grave face? ›

According to "Ethnicity and the American Cemetery," the feet of the deceased face east as well. This tradition is based on the belief that when Jesus returns, the departed will rise from the grave already facing his direction. Traditionally, facing east was not exclusively for the dead, but for the living as well.

Who is the oldest known human? ›

Some of the oldest human remains ever unearthed are the Omo One bones found in Ethiopia. For decades, their precise age has been debated, but a new study argues they're around 233,000 years old.

Are humans buried with their organs? ›

Since the organs were preserved and placed in plastic, no additional cavity embalming is needed. Another option after autopsy is that the organs are placed in a plastic bag that's kept with the body, though not in the body cavity. They might be placed at the foot of the casket.

What is the most visited grave in the world? ›

Perhaps the most-visited is the burial site of Elvis Presley at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. More than 600,000 people annually visit Graceland and Elvis' burial site. Initially, Elvis was buried in a mausoleum in Forest Hills Cemetery in Memphis, but his body was moved after a theft attempt.

Is it OK to touch a body in a casket? ›

If you have an adult with you at the funeral home, it is ok to touch a dead body, and you will not get in trouble. You are naturally curious, and sometimes when you see and touch a dead body it helps you answer your questions. Remember to be gentle and have an adult help you.

Why do they cross your arms in a casket? ›

The Lazarus sign or Lazarus reflex is a reflex movement in brain-dead or brainstem failure patients, which causes them to briefly raise their arms and drop them crossed on their chests (in a position similar to some Egyptian mummies).

Why do morticians put hair in the mouth? ›

The mouth can be closed by suture or by using a device that involves placing two small tacks (one anchored in the mandible and the other in the maxilla) in the jaw. The tacks have wires that are then twisted together to hold the mouth closed. This is almost always done because, when relaxed, the mouth stays open.

Do you stay buried forever? ›

Expiration Dates on Cemetery Plots

This is usually not the case, and when you purchase a burial plot, it is usually always yours. Until it is used by the owner, that person owns the burial plot in perpetuity, and it can even be passed down to your next of kin.

How many bodies are in the ground? ›

For all of the 7.4 billion people breathing on the planet right now, there are around 15 dead and buried beneath them. The Population Reference Bureau estimated 107 billion people have, ever, roamed the planet, Live Science reported.

How long does it take for a body to deteriorate in the grave? ›

24-72 hours after death — the internal organs decompose. 3-5 days after death — the body starts to bloat and blood-containing foam leaks from the mouth and nose. 8-10 days after death — the body turns from green to red as the blood decomposes and the organs in the abdomen accumulate gas.

When a person dies can they still hear? ›

They concluded that the dying brain responds to sound tones even during an unconscious state and that hearing is the last sense to go in the dying process. Many people who have had near-death experiences describe a sense of "awe" or "bliss" and a reluctance to come back into their bodies after being revived.

What happen immediately after death? ›

Decomposition begins several minutes after death with a process called autolysis, or self-digestion. Soon after the heart stops beating, cells become deprived of oxygen, and their acidity increases as the toxic by-products of chemical reactions begin to accumulate inside them.

How long could you live if you were buried alive? ›

(Note: If you're buried alive and breathing normally, you're likely to die from suffocation. A person can live on the air in a coffin for a little over five hours, tops. If you start hyperventilating, panicked that you've been buried alive, the oxygen will likely run out sooner.)

How do you explain a cemetery to a child? ›

Explain Where You Are

The first visit is a fine opportunity to teach the purpose of a cemetery. You might explain it as a place to remember and honor those who have died. Connecting the deceased with a physical location may help your child understand that someone he loved didn't just suddenly disappear.

How would you describe a grave situation? ›

adjective. A grave event or situation is very serious, important, and worrying. He said that the situation in his country is very grave. Synonyms: serious, important, significant, critical More Synonyms of grave. gravely adverb.

What is the love of cemeteries called? ›

Tombstone tourist (otherwise known as a "cemetery enthusiast", "cemetery tourist", "grave hunter", "graver", or "taphophile") describes an individual who has a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries, epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, art, and history of (famous) deaths.

What does cemetery mean in literature? ›

Cemeterynoun. A place where the dead are reposited.

Why are graves buried 6 feet under? ›

To Prevent the Spread of Disease

People have not always understood how diseases spread. During disease outbreaks, they may have feared that bodies could transmit disease. Still, this may be one of the reasons why people thought bodies should be buried 6 feet deep.

Should 8 year old go to funeral? ›

As a general guideline, children should be allowed to attend a wake, funeral and burial if they want to. They can also be involved in the funeral planning. Joining family members for these rituals gives the child a chance to receive grief support from others and say goodbye in their own way to the person who has died.

Why do old graves face east? ›

Most Christians tend to bury their dead facing east. This is because they believe in the second coming of Christ and scripture teaches that he will come from the east. In this manner, they place their dead in a position so they can meet Christ face-to-face during his second coming.

What is the purpose of a grave? ›

A grave is a location where a dead body (typically that of a human, although sometimes that of an animal) is buried or interred after a funeral. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the purpose of burial, such as graveyards or cemeteries.

What are the different types of grave? ›

The three main types of grave markers are granite, marble and bronze; all of which can be customized based on individual preferences.

What is an example of grave? ›

Grave is defined as a location where a dead body is buried in the ground or a place where something that is broken is lying. An example of grave is a location in a cemetery where a dead person is buried and where a stone memorializes him. An example of grave is when a boat sinks.

What is a grave without a body called? ›

Cenotaph - a grave where the body is not present; a memorial erected as over a grave, but at a place where the body has not been interred. A cenotaph may look exactly like any other grave in terms of marker and inscription.

What is an empty grave called? ›

Did you know? The word cenotaph is derived from the Greek kenos taphos, meaning "empty tomb." A cenotaph is a monument, sometimes in the form of a tomb, to a person or group of persons buried elsewhere. Ancient Greek writings tell of many cenotaphs, although none of them survives.

What can you not do at a cemetery? ›

No running, yelling, or rolling around on the ground. This is not a place for childhood games. Don't let them play on any of the monuments. While it is good to get children used to paying respects at a cemetery, they often don't fully understand the meaning of everything in the cemetery.

Why are poets called graveyard? ›

The "Graveyard Poets", also termed "Churchyard Poets", were a number of pre-Romantic English poets of the 18th century characterised by their gloomy meditations on mortality, "skulls and coffins, epitaphs and worms" elicited by the presence of the graveyard.

What type of word is cemetery? ›

A place where the dead are buried; a graveyard or memorial park.

What can you find in a cemetery guess their answers? ›

Guess Their Answer What can you find in a cemetery? Answers
  • People.
  • Graves.
  • Flowers.
  • Headstone.
  • Dead People.
  • Grass.
  • Dirt.
14 Jun 2021

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