Choosing a Cemetery

Choosing the Right Cemetery for You and Your Family

Most people do not want to consider their own mortality, let alone plan for it. However, making arrangements for your final resting place is a necessary process that can save your loved ones a great deal of time and heartache. Oak Lawn Cemetery is dedicated to helping people make these important decisions. We offer a variety of purchase options to help individuals and families make the appropriate plans.

We encourage everyone to ask themselves the following three questions when making these arrangements:
  1. What are the pros and cons of pre-need vs. at-need purchasing?
  2. Do I want to have an above-ground or in-ground site?
  3. What tools do I need to begin to plan my funeral? 
Pre-Need vs. At-Need Purchasing 

At Oak Lawn Cemetery, we encourage our patrons to make their arrangements for themselves (pre-need) rather than waiting for the inevitable and allowing family members to make these decisions (at-need). We believe that making these arrangements ahead of time is advantageous for both you and your heirs, for the following reasons:
  • You will be able to ensure that the arrangements are made in exactly the way you want them to be made. You’ll be able to pick the cemetery and the site.
  • You can take advantage of purchase options that allow you to save. At Oak Lawn Cemetery, we have packages available for individuals and families that include a plot, monument, and pre-payment of all cemetery fees included in one price. We also have a direct cremation product that includes a plot, opening and closing, monument and inscription.
  • Most cemeteries and funeral homes are businesses, and their pricing changes (often going up) over time. By paying today’s prices, you are able to realize considerable savings for your heirs, protecting them from price increases in the future.
  • You’ll make sure that you get precisely what you want while relieving your loved ones of a burden they would have to face during a time of grief.
  • Your family members will not be pressured to make important decisions in a hurried and emotionally charged environment.
  • Your estate will not have to bear the burden of cemetery and burial expenses.
  • Your loved ones will be able to focus their time and attention on helping each other to grieve, not on taking care of funeral and cemetery arrangements.
Since we began offering pre-need packages, many families have let us know what a relief it is to know that their loved ones’ arrangements were all made in advance. Not only do these families not have to face a burden of making these plans, they can also rest assured that everything was done just as their loved one wished.

Above-Ground Entombment vs. In-Ground Burial

Many people wonder whether they should choose an above-ground entombment in a mausoleum or an in-ground burial. At Oak Lawn Cemetery, we have space for both of these types of burials. Which is best for you will depend on your personal and family situation, budget, and preferences.

Above-Ground Entombments

Above-ground entombments refer to mausoleums. The word “mausoleum” comes from the name Mausolos. His grand tomb was built in 352 BCE and became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. However, his was far from being the first mausoleum. The pyramids are older, and there are many other famous mausoleums, including the Catacombs and the Taj Mahal.

Today’s mausoleums are far more functional and less decorative than the mausoleums of antiquity, the medieval period, and the early modern period. Different cemeteries have different spaces and arrangements, as well as rules and regulations. However, you should keep the following in mind:
  • Mausoleum burial is not necessarily more expensive than in-ground burial.
  • Mausoleums have crypts and niches of different sizes and configurations.
  • Crypts are for casket entombments and often come in single, double, and family (4 caskets) sizes. Generally, you can choose from tandem, double-front, and side-by-side configurations.
  • Niches are for cremated remains and are generally available in single and double sizes. Usually they are fronted in granite or marble, but glass-front niches are becoming more popular. This allows families to display the urn and personal items, though most mausoleums have rules and regulations about what may be displayed.
  • Many cemeteries provide both indoor and outdoor crypts and niches. Indoor ones tend to be more expensive, but many people prefer them because of the more pleasant visitor experience. 
In-Ground Burial 

All cemeteries offer in-ground burial. Usually graves are sold in single, double, and three-grave lots. Sometimes cemeteries may also make estate lots available to allow families to purchase a multi-grave lot and a larger monument. Generally cemeteries have rules and regulations concerning these monuments. 

If you or your loved one has chosen cremation, know that most cemeteries have “urn gardens” which are prepared solely for cremated remains. Like the traditional sites, they also will often have rules and restrictions on marker size and monuments.

Making the Decision 

Once you have made the important decisions – burial or cremation, above-ground or in-ground burial – visit a few local cemeteries. Drive through them during a free weekend afternoon and take note of the grounds. Are they well-maintained? Can you easily find your way through the cemetery? 

Take the time to learn more about the history of the cemetery and ask whether the facility has a full-time staff to see to the grounds. Learn who controls the cemetery: a local board of directors or a large corporation. Visit the business office and speak with the employees, determining if the staff is friendly, courteous, and knowledgeable. 

Make sure that you receive satisfactory answers to these questions before you choose your final resting place. 

A Tool to Begin Planning Your Funeral 

Oak Lawn Cemetery has developed a Family Resource Guide that will help you to start the planning process on your own, before you meet with a funeral director. This guide gives you the space to list important information for your family members, such as the location of key documents, contact information for your legal and financial professionals, and more. Many families find this to be an essential complement to the planning process. 

At Oak Lawn Cemetery, we understand the importance of having options. We’ve recently expanded our options and choices, and we would be happy to discuss any and all of these with you. All families who come to our office and take a tour of our grounds can receive a complimentary copy of our Family Resource Guide. Oak Lawn Cemetery Association is a non-profit, non-sectarian cemetery located in the Greenfield Hill area of Fairfield. To schedule a tour of our grounds and receive your complimentary Family Resource Guide, please call (203) 307-5854 or (203) 292-1277. 
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