Cemeteries, they are the final resting places dedicated to our bodies after death – colloquially known as sprawling necropolises, they are adorned with rows of gravestones and columbaria, and reflect the spiritual beliefs and preferences of every culture at every stage of their history. Since the mid-eighteenth century, cemeteries have also served as a city’s green space, allowing families and others a place to go for visiting, mourning, reflecting and memorializing the dead. And while many people may only see a cemetery as just a place where the dead are laid to rest, cemeteries can be divided into fifteen different categories which include:
1. The Church Cemetery: Between the Middle ages and the Victorian era, the dead were often buried on the properties of churches – however with limited space, graves were often used multiple times. But as plagues and disease rose through the soils infecting those who attended mass, new regulations were formed in regards to burials and burial plots, which included making it illegal to bury bodies less than six feet under the soil.
These days, churchyards are still used to house the dead, and while a church cemetery is often found in the churchyard, it can often be separate from the church. These churchyards are owned by the church and are considered private property, however, churchyards are generally open for all to visit.
One such famous churchyard is the Trinity Church Cemetery located in Manhattan, New York, USA, which is the home to many founding US representatives and Revolutionary War soldiers.
2. The Public Cemetery: Public Cemeteries are plots of land owned by a governmental unit within a town, city or county and are by law, public cemeteries that must remain open to the public.
3. The Customary Cemetery: With no formal or legal status; no sexton or sexton’s records, customary cemeteries are simply plots used by neighbors as a burying place, which are further cared for by survivors of those buried within. While they are not generally legal, these types of cemeteries are tolerated and can often be found in rural areas.
4. The Private Cemetery: Often owned and operated by a corporation, lodge, community organization, military or specific family, these cemeteries are restrictive to the public and will list the owners and/or caretakers at the cemetery entrance.
5. The Lodge Cemetery: Similar to the private cemetery, a lodge cemetery is owned and operated by lodges or other fraternal organizations, such as the Bohemian Grove Club, Freemasons or Oddfellows. In many cases, these cemeteries are strictly restricted to members of the organization, but often, others can purchase plots – and because many of these organizations were founded as a means to provide burial or death insurance, costs were generally inexpensive for members.
6. The Ethnic Cemetery: These type of cemeteries can either be private or public, but are owned, operated and maintained to support one religious group, such as Russians and the Russian Orthodox Church.
7. The Family Cemetery: In most states, these types of cemeteries are still legal, but while there are fewer family cemeteries, at one time there were thousands of them. Consisting of a plot of land, owned by a family, a family cemetery would see the occasional close friend buried on the property along with family members, due to many families owning large amounts of rural land, they could afford to allocate portions of land for this purpose to keep burial costs down.
8. The Veterans’ Cemetery: As part of their service in the military, veterans who were honorably discharged from service are given the opportunity to be buried in a military cemetery. Currently there are 119 national veterans’ cemeteries in the United States, the most famous of all being the Arlington National Cemetery.
9. The Monumental Cemetery: Monumental cemeteries are cemeteries in which headstones or other monuments made of marble, granite or similar materials rise vertically above the ground. However, because maintenance of monuments is the responsibility to the family, and further because of the number of graves inside the cemetery, monumental cemeteries have been considered unsightly.
10. The Memorial Park: With no gravestones or grave mounds, memorial parks and lawn park cemeteries are more commemorative memorials in honor of the deaths of many lives. The most famous of which is National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
11. The Lawn Park Cemetery: With commemorative plaques placed horizontally at the head of the grave at ground-level, a lawn cemetery is a cemetery that is void of grave mounds, but covered entirely with flat grassy lawns which barely shows any evidence that people have been buried there. However, because the plaques are in the ground, many families are restricted from leaving objects on grave markers, due to lawn maintenance and the use of mowers.
12. The Lawn Beam Cemetery: Much like a lawn park cemetery, a lawn beam cemetery is a recent addition to the cemetery that addresses the problems a lawn park cemetery may impose on maintenance workers. Using a low raised concrete slab placed across the cemetery which allows for commemorative plaques be mounted to, this feature allows space between the slabs where grass can grow, giving cemetery maintenance workers ease to work mowers without the risk of blades damaging plaques and objects left behind by families.
13. The Garden Cemetery: It was in 1831 when the first American garden cemetery was created. Known as Mount Auburn Cemetery, it combines a mixture of trees, flowers and benches to give it a park-like atmosphere, but still uses the traditional grave markers and monuments to identify the locations of final resting places.
14. The Natural Cemetery: Instead of headstones and monuments lined along a neatly manicured lawn, the natural cemetery is planted with trees to create a botanical park. It’s the type of environmentally friendly cemetery that would appeal to people who prefer not to be preserved in caskets and injected with chemical preservatives but would rather let Mother Nature recycle the nutrients of a body to assist plant life to grow.
15. The Pet Cemetery: For many people a pet can be more than just a pet. In their eyes, a pet is a member of the family and as a member of the family, a certain of dignity is required which is why pet cemeteries have been increasing in popularity over the years. However, while a person cannot be buried with their pets in pet cemeteries, their cremains can. Meanwhile, since 1896, the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery & Crematory has been catering to pet interment with nearly seventy-thousand pets having been buried on the land.