Considering a Burial or Cremation? Why not both?

Woman with toddler looking at a bush with beautiful flowers growing from it


People have buried their loved ones for millennia, and funeral pyres have been used since at least the first century AD. Folklorist Jacob Grimm said that cremation was a way of connecting humans with the gods, as fire rises to the heavens.


Cremation has recently become the most popular method of disposition the United States, but many people are unaware that you can bury a loved one’s ashes, as opposed to scattering ashes or keeping them in an urn in your home.


If you’re planning a cremation, a traditional burial may not be something you’ve considered. But burial can help loved ones remember the person they’ve lost and begin the journey toward healing. Here are a few options for burial to consider after cremation.


Choosing a Traditional Burial

Like a casket, a cremation urn can be buried in a traditional gravesite. Each cemetery carefully lays out guidelines for the interment, or final placement, of remains. Many cemeteries allow for the burial of ashes in traditional plots. You may need to contain the urn in a vault so that the ground above and surrounding the urn remain stable and the ashes within are protected.


Some cemeteries allow multiple urns to be interred in the same burial plot, due to the smaller size of the container. In this way, the remains of family members can be memorialized together in a place where loved ones can gather to remember them.


Aside from cemeteries, some families choose to bury their loved one’s ashes on private property. Massachusetts law allows for this, as long as the property owner is notified and agrees beforehand. But unless the property has already been approved for burials, you must generally get approval from the local board of health. Whatever you choose, Chapman Funerals & Cremations can help you understand your options and help you move forward with your decision.


A Niche is Also Nice

Rather than burial, some families choose to keep their loved one’s ashes in a special compartment called a niche. These compartments exist inside buildings called columbaria, or on the exterior of structures that are built above the ground, similar to mausoleums. These are usually made of marble or premium granite, and the niches are recessed shelves within the walls, each one designed to hold an urn.


Some cremation niches are larger, built with two or four spaces to hold urns. Others have a glass front, so that family members can return to the columbarium to spend time with their loved one in a peaceful, quiet place.


Once the urn has been placed inside the columbarium niche, a common practice is to fasten a plaque on the outside of the niche, engraved with the person’s name and details of their life. Like burial plots in cemeteries, the cost of a niche can depend on the location of the columbarium. When the time comes, Chapman can help guide you through your options to find the right final resting place for your loved one.


Benefits of Burial After Cremation

After the ones we love are no longer with us, they still impact us. The loss of their presence in our everyday lives remains long after they’re gone. For many people, a place to return to, to memorialize the life of someone we care about can be a powerful salve to ease our pain.


Interring a loved one’s ashes in a grave or a columbarium creates a permanent spot where we can always go to pay our respects and remember the person we’ve lost. This can serve as a place for families and friends to gather and grieve with one another, so the healing process can begin.


Creating a permanent resting place in a cemetery also safeguards a person’s cremated remains. Rather than the responsibility of keeping an urn at home, where it could get broken or lost, you can rest easy knowing the ashes are where they will remain safe and secure, and you can visit anytime. Finding a permanent place also alleviates the question of what happens once the ashes’ keeper passes, as well.


A cremation burial allows for the interment of two people to be together within one grave. And when burying cremated remains, you can still hold a memorial and graveside service, without the stress of having to do so immediately after death. This gives people traveling from other places more time to make arrangements to attend the memorial.


You Don’t Have to Do This Alone

The details of arranging a funeral and burial that does justice to the person you’ve lost can add up quickly. When someone is grieving, the world moves too fast. And all of the arrangements can easily become overwhelming.


So much has changed in the 150 years since we began serving Cape Cod. In the 1870s, the electric lightbulb and the telephone were brand new. Now we visit with families and friends using video calls over the internet. No matter how technology changes, the need to connect with those we love remains constant throughout the decades, and the islanders who need funeral or cremation arrangements have been able to trust Chapman with some of the most delicate moments we live through.


Chapman funeral homes exist to help people living in Bridgewater, East Bridgewater, Falmouth, Harwich, Marstons Mills, Martha's Vineyard, Mashpee, Wareham, West Falmouth, and Yarmouth through some of their most difficult days. From choosing a cemetery and plot, to facilitating all of the necessary details of the planning processes and taking care of our community every step of the way, we are always here.

Feeling overwhelmed with the options and decisions that accompany a loved one’s cremation? We’re here for you.



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