Cemeteries have a rich and storied history. Many have an “Our History” page on their website where you can learn more about the cemetery’s past.
Cemeteries provide a dignified place for mourners to gather, burial space and grounds maintenance & beautification. They also provide a variety of support services to the public.
It’s a Place of Remembrance
A cemetery is a place of rememberance and healing for family members and friends who have lost a loved one. It is also a source of comfort for those who are still alive and it is important that they visit the gravesite of their loved ones to commemorate them and heal from their loss.
There are a variety of types of cemeteries:
Ethnic cemetery – A private or public cemetery owned and operated to support a particular religion.
Military cemetery – A burial ground for the military.
Natural cemetery – A newer style of cemetery set aside for burials or interment of cremated remains in a wooded area without traditional markers.
A cemetery is a place where the names of dead people are recorded, and the burial site may be a conventional grave, a tomb, a columbarium or a mausoleum. Burial registers are kept in most countries and they often include (at least) the name of the deceased, the date and location of burial.
It’s a Place of Healing
For people that have suffered the loss of a loved one, Cemetery is a place where they can experience a sense of comfort and peace. They can visit the grave site to cry as much as they want, or even sit in silence for a while and think about their loved one.
Incorporating annual remembrance events can draw large groups of people together (as long as social distancing allows). From a business perspective, it is a great way to increase footfall and emphasise the role your cemetery plays as a community space.
Incorporating traditions that honour the dead, like placing flowers and other offerings, is a way to show respect. For example, war graves are often marked with timber remembrance crosses, and Jewish war graves are sometimes marked with the Star of David. Placing burning grave candles, called znicz in Polish, is also a popular tradition on All Souls’ Day and for Jewish holidays. Other traditions are specific to the deceased and their families.
It’s a Place of Community
Although media tends to portray cemeteries as spooky places of death and darkness, they actually provide a sense of community for those who have loved ones buried in the area. They are a place to go for peaceful walks, get in touch with your own mortality and spend time reflecting on the life of someone who has passed.
The design and layout of a cemetery is influenced by geography, culture, religion, burial traditions and practices, and aesthetic and sanitary considerations. The inscriptions on headstones and monuments, the specific architecture of memorial buildings and graveyards, and the general landscape layout of a cemetery reveal information and emotion shared by family and friends over the years.
The use of digital mapping allows for a more precise management of plot allocations, allowing cemetery staff to serve their communities with greater efficiency and effectiveness. It also allows for the cemetery to be more relevant in a public sense, something that many have found lacking in modern society.
It’s a Place of Legacy
For genealogy researchers, a cemetery is a place to uncover clues about an ancestor’s life and death. The cemetery can provide information on burial sites, burial rituals, art, architecture and attitudes from the time of an ancestor’s lifetime.
Historically, people of importance were buried within the walls of a church or in ossuaries next to a place of worship and their gravestones included a full stone inscription that detailed their name, occupation and other personal information. The less important were buried on the outside edges of a churchyard where their names were often illegibly carved in the ground.
Many families visit cemeteries as a way of remembering and honoring their loved ones. A cemetery can become a place of pilgrimage for some, where they leave offerings such as coins, paper cranes, water and sake. Some even bring flowers or other mementos to place on the headstone.