Types of grave at cemeteries

What type of grave can have its period of use extended, what type can be planted and where is it not permitted to have a headstone?

It is not just cemeteries that differ from one another – tombs are also divided into different types of grave. The choice of grave type can clearly indicate the social status of a deceased person. In the allocation of plots two main types of right of use have evolved: sequence graves and selected graves. Others, however, have been added.
Cemetery management authorities must ensure that on the day of the interment the right of use of a plot covers the entire period of rest. In the event of a subsequent burial a further purchase may therefore be required. If a further purchase is not possible due to the plot chosen earlier, a new plot must be acquired. The purchaser of a burial plot normally automatically acquires the so-called right of use. He or she decides on further burials and planting and is also the contact person for the cemetery management authority. He or she may also transfer the right of use to other family members.

It is possible to differentiate between grave types based on the following criteria:

A sequence grave is the usual form of use at a cemetery and the right of use is acquired by the relatives in the event of a bereavement. A sequence grave must therefore be made available to any deceased person. The plot is allocated by the cemetery in sequence and it is not possible to make a choice. Only one coffin can be interred in a sequence grave and it is usually cheaper than a selected grave. Use of the grave, however, cannot be extended.

In addition a selected grave has a special right of use with several unique features. The grave is individual and is selected by the relatives. Depending on type several burials can be carried out in one plot. Generally there is a single charge for care of the grave and the headstone for a multiple burial selected grave. If a plot already exists its usability must be verified and the approval of the cemetery’s management authority and the holder of the right of use secured. The period of use of the grave can be extended. This means that this type of grave offers the opportunity to create a generation-spanning family tomb.

Other options are columbaria, crypts, communal urn graves and anonymous burials.
Columbaria, also known as urn niche walls, accommodate urns in similar niches, most of which have individually inscribed sealer plates. Although columbaria are individual places of interment and therefore an alternative to anonymous burial, they cannot be planted.
Walled tombs under the ground or mausolea, splendid constructions above the grounds, are - at least in Germany – only available in older cemeteries. These types of grave reflected a desire to communicate a certain social status or religious persuasion.
The collective urn grave with a communal memorial stone combines anonymous interment with the desire for a headstone. When acquiring the grave you, as the buyer, have no influence on the location. A large, heavy headstone or large individual memorial plates are erected on a burial site. The urn, or on request two urns, are interred together. The names of the deceased are engraved on the stone/stones. Individual planting of the grave or an extension are not possible.

Although there are several names for anonymous burial, the common denominator is that there is no individual tomb. The description “anonymous" derives from the fact that the precise location of the grave is known only to the cemetery management authority. In most instances the relatives cannot attend the funeral. The burial sites are typically lawns at the edge of which wreaths or memorial candles can be placed. The deceased are not mentioned by name. In the case of an earth burial interment is in a communal burial site with no individual markers.
In the case of a cremation the anonymous urn can be interred in an urn grove. As with all other forms of funeral a funeral service can be conducted. In some places the ashes of the deceased can also be scattered at the cemetery.

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Rules and regulations very for each federal state and cemetery and we will be happy to help you make the appropriate choice. Feel free to discuss your wishes with us.

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