Common Questions about Burial
Do you own a cemetery?
No. In Michigan, to protect consumers, a funeral home cannot own a cemetery and a cemetery cannot own a funeral home. A.J. Desmond & Sons is very knowledgeable about area cemeteries. Please contact us if you would like some assistance.
Do you sell markers and monuments?
Yes we do. We offer the highest quality bronze and granite products at competitive prices. The selection can be made without any pressure at your home or one of our funeral homes.
What are the principal types of cemeteries, and how do they differ?
Cemeteries usually are divided into two broad categories: traditional cemeteries and memorial gardens. A traditional cemetery has upright monuments and also may have private crypts for above-ground interment. Some contain a great deal of history, such as architecture and statuary, as well as the personages interred there. They often have lush landscaping and impressive greenery.
Memorial gardens often have expansive lawns in a park-like setting. Bronze memorials are placed level with the ground, so the feel is more open. There is often a variety of trees, flowering gardens, as well as fountains, sculpture or memorial architecture.
Some cemeteries have both traditional upright monument sections and garden sections. Both types of cemeteries may offer above-ground interment in community mausoleums and have chapels, crematories, community mausoleums or columbariums for urns. Both may be operated on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis. They may be owned by an individual or a corporation. Some are owned mutually, and many are the property of towns, counties and religious or fraternal groups.
In the Detroit area, we have numerous cemetery options. Please contact us and we can discuss this with you further.
A few area cemeteries offer Green Burial options. To learn more, visit GREEN BURIAL.
I am a veteran. Do I have certain burial benefits?
Yes you do. Burial benefits available include a gravesite in a national cemetery, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, and a government headstone or marker. Cremated remains are also buried or inurned in national cemeteries. We are fortunate in Michigan to have two national cemeteries serving veterans, one in North Oakland County and one near Battle Creek. For more information about these cemeteries, please visit VETERANS CEMETERIES. Veterans buried in a private cemetery also have burial benefits. For more information, please visit VETERANS SERVICES AND BENEFITS.
I am a qualified veteran and plan to be buried in a national cemetery. Is my spouse and/or a dependent child eligible to be buried next to me?
Yes, space for your spouse or any dependent children can be authorized at the time of your death. Please see VETERANS SERVICES for more information.
How do I choose the right cemetery?
Some things to consider include: Where are other deceased family members buried? Are there specific ethnic or religious traditions you want to follow? Do you want many family members buried close together? Do you prefer expansive lawns or upright monuments? Do you want a convenient location? Answers to these types of questions will assist you to make the right decisions. We are very knowledgeable about local cemeteries, so let us know if we can assist you with this decision.
How do I choose the right type of property?
Some things to consider include: Are you arranging for yourself or your family? What type of memorial do you prefer? How much do you want to spend? Answers to these types of questions will assist you to make the right purchase as cemetery space varies by size, location, type and price. We can assist you with these decisions.
What is a disinterment? Why does it happen? What is the process?
Disinterment is the removal of the casket containing human remains from a grave. If a family wants to relocate a casket to reinter it to another grave or to a mausoleum, they will request a disinterment. Laws governing disinterment vary by state. In Michigan, permission must be received from the local Board of Health. We can assist you with this process. On very rare occasions, disinterment may be ordered by certain public officials without the consent of the grave owner or the next of kin, for example, as part of a police investigation.
In a hundred years will the cemetery still be here?
Think of cemetery lands as being in perpetuity. There are cemeteries throughout the world that have been in existence for hundreds of years.
Will a cemetery ever be used for something else? Can the bodies be moved and buildings built?
Communities afford respect to cemeteries and to the memorialization which cemeteries provide. In order to protect interment rights holders, strict rules govern the use of cemetery lands. Graves are normally considered to be sold in perpetuity which virtually eliminates possible re-development.
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. Since many graves are purchased in advance, sold graves will be opened when a death occurs, markers will be placed and other services will be provided. Most states have laws that require funds to be set aside from each sale for the long-term care and maintenance of the cemetery. Michigan requires 15 percent of the lot purchase price to be placed into an endowment care fund.
How much do graves cost? Why aren't they priced the same all over?
Grave prices vary just like any piece of property. Grave prices are normally based on their location. Normally, graves in more populated areas are more expensive than in less populated areas because of land value and the available number of graves. Within the cemetery, grave prices can vary by the section in which the grave is located. The number of interments permitted in a grave may also affect the price, as may the size of the grave. Due to the additional space required, graves which allow for a monument are more expensive.
What is a burial vault and a grave liner? Why is one needed?
These are the outside containers into which the casket is placed into in a cemetery grave. Burial vaults are designed to protect the casket and may be made of a variety or combination of materials including concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, bronze, plastic or fiberglass. A grave liner is an unsealed version of a vault which simply keeps the grave surface from sinking in.
State or local law does not require a container to surround the casket in the grave. However, most cemeteries require such a container so that the ground will not sink and the grave will remain intact. Either a grave liner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements.
What is the ‘opening and closing fee’?
Opening and closing fees include numerous services provided by the cemetery. Typically, this fee includes administration and permanent record keeping (determining ownership, obtaining permission and the completion of other required documentation, 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 of the vault; installation and removal of the casket lowering device; and leveling, tamping, re-grading and sodding the grave site.
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. Because of safety issues which arise around the use of machinery on cemetery property and the protection of the adjacent graves, the opening and closing of the grave is conducted by cemetery grounds personnel.
What options are available besides ground burial?
Many cemeteries offer interment in lawn crypts or entombment in mausoleums. In addition, some cemeteries provide options for those who have selected cremation, typically a niche of a columbarium or interment in an urn space. Some cemeteries provide for scattering of the remains in a garden set aside for that purpose, which can include a plaque memorializing the deceased.
What is a mausoleum? What is entombment?
A mausoleum is a large building designed to provide above-ground entombment for a number of people. A private crypt is a much smaller building for a very limited number of people, usually a family. Entombment is the interment of human remains in a mausoleum or crypt. It involves placing a casket urn in a crypt or niche which is then sealed.
What is a columbarium?
A columbarium, often located within a mausoleum or chapel at a cemetery or sometimes at a church, is constructed of numerous small compartments (niches) designed to hold urns containing cremated remains.
May I make the necessary arrangements in advance?
Yes, usually all arrangements may be made in advance. A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors have several pre-planning options. Please visit PREPLANNING for more information. You can also call or visit us.