Permanent memorialization not only provides a lasting tribute to a loved one, but also a place to visit and gather together, an assurance that the remains are cared for, and a key to family history for future generations. Consideration and remembrance of others is what life and memorializing are all about. A cemetery has a duty of perpetual care for those placed on its grounds and provides a place to visit for centuries to come.
A Family or Ground Plot below the earth is what many envision at a cemetery. This space is not reserved exclusively for burials of caskets containing a full body. Rather, cemeteries often permit the interment of the cremated remains of more than one person in a single adult space. Cremated remains may be placed in the ground with a marker like any other burial, frequently near another family marker. Some of these markers can even be designed to incorporate some cremated remains in the construction. Similarly, urns may be placed in monuments on the grave site, mausoleum, or other above-ground structures, either reserved for the family or open to the public.
A Columbarium is an above-ground structure inside or outdoors at a cemetery and designed specifically to hold cremated remains in urn compartments called niches. Columbaria or columbarium may be an entire building, a room, a wall along a corridor, or a series of special alcoves or halls in private or public mausoleum, chapels, or other buildings located in a cemetery or on other dedicated property. Niches will vary in size, some holding just the urn while others are large enough to include memorabilia and are protected by barriers called fronts, made of glass, marble, bronze, granite, or mosaic tile.
An Ossuary is also an above ground structure inside or out-of-doors at a cemetery. However, while some monuments referred to above keep the remains separated in an urn, an ossuary itself is like a large urn for many people. They may be privately reserved for a family or publically available to anyone in the community, and will have a ledger and memorials commemorating the remains placed within.
An Urn or Cremation Garden will have many choices created specifically for the placement of cremated remains. Some gardens offer individual urn burial plots that will accommodate a marker. Others offer unmarked areas for interment of the urn, with adjacent walls or sculptures for memorial plaques. Some will have a columbarium or a scattering garden within the designated space.
A Scattering Garden allows for cremated remains to be ceremonially released to the earth, with a memorial marker to honor the remains that will return to nature. These markers vary from small plaques to benches or a tree near the scattering space.
A note, scattering outside the scattering garden will not ensure that the cremated remains will be properly respected even though they are still within the cemetery’s property. Scattering on another’s grave site, even a relative’s plot, or other unauthorized area is prohibited and may result in unceremonious removal of the scattered remains and a fine.