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The Complete Guide to Planning a Burial​

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“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
From a headstone in Ireland

Have you ever wandered through the burial grounds of a cemetery, read the inscriptions on the headstones and admired the cemetery architecture? Have you felt, with a sense of awe that you are in a sacred space, that souls buried here all have their own stories to tell? They belonged to someone. But, most importantly, they are a part of someone’s heritage. They played a role in our history. This person you are reading about, in some way, left their indelible mark on society. Essentially, this is the essence and beauty of a cemetery. Your loved one’s burial plot and plaque will become a part of this sacred tradition of honouring those passed in recognition that their time on this earth mattered and in their own way still does. A grave gives you a place and space to reflect, honour and pay tribute to your loved one.

With an array of options from Lawn, Monumental and Natural or Green graves right through to Vaults, Mausoleums & Crypts, Swanborough Funerals will assist you in selecting the best option based on your personal preferences, budget as well as your cultural and religious heritage. Dependant on your grave preference we will assist, guide and manage the burial journey for you.

Your Burial Questions Answered

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A burial is where your loved one is prepared, placed in their coffin or casket and set in a burial plot within cemetery grounds.
Although the burial itself is a once off experience, your loved ones final resting place, their grave, represents the precious life of your loved one.

Your loved one’s grave is their final resting place that captures their existence in a few brief words.
It is a sacred place where this beautiful soul becomes part of history for future generations to reflect on.
Your loved one’s gravesite offers a permanent place and space for all who knew and loved them to reflect and pay their respects in years to come.

The headstone or plaque on the grave shares your loved one’s name, the amount of time they spent on this earth, the family and a particular verse or quote is engraved into stone or on bronze.

A burial plot is a small area of land where your loved one’s body will be buried and laid to rest and is always in a cemetery on crown or trust land.

This is generally a highly emotional choice for you and your family as this space and place represents your loved one.
Things to consider:

  • Would you like the cemetery to be close to your home?
  • What type of cemetery plot is suitable? These may include personal preferences for example, manicured lawns near water or a flowing stream or a bushland setting.
  • Do you want a gravesite that allows other family burials to take place in the future?
  • What burial plot would best represent the essence of your loved one’s wishes, belief and culture?

These are just a few thoughts that may assist you in making the right choice for where your loved one’s gravesite should be.

There are different burial plot options. We always recommend you visit a few cemeteries to choose the burial plot that best reflects the essence of the person it represents. Our team at Swanborough Funerals are here to help.

A family grave is where family members are buried together in the same gravesite or on the same plot.

There are various options available dependant on the family wishes.

Single plots:
These are the most common type of plot in a cemetery. Single plots contain just one person in a casket.

Companion plots: 
These are 2 plots that are sold together, side by side and is often chosen by married couples. The other option, if this is your wish, is a single plot in which the caskets are buried on top of one another and is often referred to as “Double Depth”.

Family Plots:
In some cemeteries a family may purchase a small area of the cemetery and this will be dedicated to the family. You may have seen these beautiful plots, often a single large headstone engraved with the family name marking the area, and then each individual family member who has been laid to rest will have his or her own smaller headstone marking their individual grave.

Most cemeteries allow for more than one family burial within the same gravesite.

Usually, lawn, monumental, above-ground, or below-ground vaults have interment options for more than one family burial in the same plot.
The second or third interment is known as a double or triple depth gravesite. They are allowing for one or two more burials to take place, depending on the cemetery.

Your family member who purchased and signed for the grave is known as the burial rights holder. The burial rights holder would sign to permit to have the grave reopened if the burial rights holder is deceased, the next of kin sign on their behalf.

You may not wish for a second or third family burial in your loved one’s grave in which case you can pre-purchase several burial plots side by side.

Because green or natural burial is a shallow grave burial, it is impossible to reopen the natural burial plot and thus only one deceased person can be buried on a green or natural burial site.

The design of family mausoleums holds between 8 – 10 family beds.

Below is a current pricing guide to give you an understanding of the different costs involved with a burial.

  • Lawn graves and monumental graves average from around $5000 for the plot, including the first burial in the greater Brisbane area. Also, some cemeteries include a primary plaque in their fees for lawn graves.
  • Monumental graves require a monumental mason fee for a headstone and thus cost varies greatly.
    In essence, this depends on the amount of work needed, the material used, and the monument’s size.
    Monuments start from around $3500 upwards.
  • Vaults begin from around $8,500 upwards.
  • Mausoleums or family chapels start from around $50,000 for eight beds. Most hold 8 – 10 beds.
  • Reopen fees of a family burial site start from $2600.

Essentially costs depend on the site. For example, vaults and monumental sites require removing the marble or concrete ledger over the grave.

Burial Options

Lawn Burial

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Instead of a more prominent headstone, a lawn grave offers a neatly mown area where memorial plaques are placed on the grave either flush to the ground or on a concrete or granite ledger.

Advantages to Lawn Burial

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Firstly, lawn graves tend to be the most cost-effective option. This is because the gravesite and plot digging fees are less expensive than other options.

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Also, it is the most cost-effective choice when having the plaque made. Often cemeteries will include a basic plaque in the purchase of the gravesite

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Generally, a lawn section in the cemetery is the easiest to maintain. You will notice that the cemetery grounds keepers can mow regularly to keep the cemetery grounds looking neat. This is sometimes a little more difficult around the monumental graves.

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Notably, other family burials can take place in a lawn burial site.
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Usually, you can pre-purchase a lawn grave.

Grave Stone at World War II Cemetery, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Disadvantages to Lawn Burial

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Essentially, lawn plaques are smaller than monumental headstones, allowing for a limited number of words on the plaque.

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Lawn cemeteries have strict guidelines for items on the grave and a minimal area for memorabilia, ornaments, or flowers to be placed.

Monumental Burial

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A monumental gravesite is a traditional choice. Usually the construction of monumental graves is marble, granite, stone or concrete.

It is recommended that you engage with a qualified monumental mason to design and craft the headstone. By sharing details of your loved one they will be in a position to create a personalised and tailor-made headstone befitting of your loved one.

Advantages of a Monumental Burial

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Individual and Unique

With a choice of style, colour and material you are able to create a personalised, tailor-made headstone.

A simple or elaborate a monumental gravesite can easily reflect the person it represents.

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Space

Unlike a lawn grave you are able to use the entire area of the monumental tomb to place the tombstone.

The site includes the headstone and ledger covering the rest of the grave. There is more space to place wording.

There is a greater area of space for family and loved ones to place floral tributes, grave lights, ornaments and special memorabilia.

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Family Burials

Other family burials can take place in the same monumental gravesite (pre-purchase required if separate site desired).

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Pre-Purchase

Monumental graves can often be pre-purchased.

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Disadvantages of a Monumental Burial

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Cost

Monumental graves are more costly.

You will generally require the services of a monumental mason to design and construct the grave.

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Time

It is advised that you wait 12 months for the ground to settle before placing a tombstone on a burial site.

Natural or Green Burial

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Natural or Green Burials allow for minimal impact on the environment.
With 2 options available, woodland area or trees planted on your loved ones grave, they both allow regeneration in the area of their final resting place.

Your loved one will be buried in a shallow grave using only natural fibre constructed coffins or caskets. These are made from materials like recycled cardboard, wicker, wool or plantation timbers. Alternatively, we can wrap your loved one in a shroud.

Advantages of a Natural Burial

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Personal choice

Often the environment is important to your loved one or they may simply have a close connection to nature.

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Sustainability of our planet

You will be preserving a parcel of land and contribute in protecting the area from future development.

Fauna and flora flourish in natural burial sites.

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Cost effective

Once regeneration of the natural habitat occurs there is minimum upkeep, thus a highly cost-effective option.

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Disadvantages of a Natural Burial

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Strict guidelines pertaining to plaques

Unfortunately, some natural burial sites do not allow any natural stone or wood plaques.

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Family Burials

There is no room for other family members to be buried in this site at a later stage and due to it being a shallow grave decomposition occurs where the most microorganisms are.

australia

Limited options available in Australia

Green cemeteries in Australia are still in the early stage of development and thus not many cemeteries offer this option.

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Pre-purchase

Most green cemeteries do not allow for pre-purchasing of burial plots. We do believe this option will become available in the future.

Vaults, Mausoleums & Crypts

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Vaults, Mausoleums and Crypts are generally chosen because of your cultural and religious heritage.

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Vaults – Below and Above Ground options

The only difference between above and below ground vaults is that one is above and the other below ground.

A below or above ground vault consists of concrete, granite, or stone.

Your loved one is embalmed and placed in a metal sealed liner within the coffin or casket. The coffin or casket sits on a copper tray in the grave.
Your monumental mason then seals the vault with a top ledger.

Most importantly, the vault has no soil within, like a monumental or lawn burial.

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Mausoleums and Crypts

A mausoleum or crypt is an above ground family chapel built by a qualified monumental mason.
Constructed of bricks, concrete, marble or granite a mausoleum is usually purchased by your family and houses your deceased family members remains in a casket or coffin

You may have seen these beautiful buildings in several different cemeteries around Brisbane.
Similar to below and above ground vaults, your loved one is embalmed for the safe preservation, a metal liner and copper tray hold the casket or coffin.

Burial Service Options

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Whether you are wanting to gather in a small intimate group, a large group or simply celebrate the life of your loved one we will spend time with you to learn about your loved one so that we can create a truly life honouring ceremony.

Graveside Service

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This is a single service ceremony, in essence, a graveside gathering to honour the life of your loved one.

Your relatives and friends gather at the graveside to pay their respects to your special person.

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Chapel / church service followed by committal at the cemetery

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This is a combination of two gatherings.

Firstly, the funeral ceremony of your loved one takes place with their coffin present at the chapel or your family church.

Next, pallbearers carry your loved from the chapel to the hearse at the end of the service.

A procession or funeral cortege follows the hearse to the graveside.

Finally, the life-honouring committal where the coffin lowers into the grave and friends and family speak tributes of farewell.

Grave service followed by memorial service

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Firstly, there is a graveside gathering for your loved one. Often, this is an intimate group of your close family and friends.

Then, after the graveside service, a more extensive gathering of your community takes place in a venue without your loved one’s coffin present.

We refer to this as a celebration of their life known as the memorial service.

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Flowers on coffin

No attendance burial

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This is a burial where we are requested to conduct a burial service with no one in attendance. It is often due to cultural, religious, or personal beliefs.

Quite often, the memorial service or celebration of life is held instead at a venue of your family’s choosing. In essence, this is where you remember and celebrate the life of your loved one without the coffin or casket present.

At Swanborough Funerals we will assist, guide and manage your loved one’s burial service with respect, compassion and care.

In preparation for your loved one’s burial

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At Swanborough Funerals we endeavour to provide a ceremony that lovingly represents your loved one. We engage with the cemetery to ensure you and your loved ones are treated with respect, compassion and care.

Pallbearers and lowering the coffin

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There are various options available of which our funeral directors will be here to guide, assist and manage on your behalf.

  • Pallbearers, which may be family and friends or our funeral directors, can carry your loved one’s coffin to the grave, alternatively the coffin can be set up on the gravesite on your arrival.
  • Other symbolic and heartfelt symbols include the release of butterflies or doves as a sign of freedom and peace.
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What Swanborough Funerals provides at the cemetery

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  • Shelter and comfort: Canopy shelter and chairs can be provided dependant on the grave location.
  • Sound system and podium: To play music and to ensure farewell tributes are presented with ease.
  • Comforts: Bottles of water, tissues and hand sanitizer as well as umbrellas.
  • Recording or live streaming: Your funeral director will assist with this if required.
  • Interim grave marker: Families may choose a white cross grave marker with an engraved name plate plaque. This marker is placed on the grave site until the plaque or headstone is completed. Plaques can take 2 – 3 months, headstones a little longer.

What happens after burial?

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After the burial the cemetery grounds keeper will form a mound of soil over the grave. The soil within a burial site can take up to 12 months to settle and as this occurs the earth will sink below ground level. When sinking occurs the cemetery grounds keeper will top fill the grave.

Burial rights contract

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Generally burial plots are perpetual.

When purchasing a grave, you will be required to sign a burial rights contract which outlines the rules, regulations, terms and conditions pertaining to the site and we always encourage families to read these carefully.

Grave plaques and cemetery headstones

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Some cemeteries will organise a plaque and headstone for you, whilst other require you to source these.

At Swanborough Funerals we are here to assist and guide you with recommendations on qualified monumental masons. We are also able to assist and organise the wording on the plaque and headstone as well as the placement thereof.

Roles and responsibilities

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It is the role of the cemetery to keep the ground around your loved ones grave neat and tidy.

The family is responsible for the upkeep of your loved one’s headstone or plaque.

Cemetery rules, regulations and considerations

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Due to a cemetery being a public place it needs to be kept safe and tidy.

Each cemetery has its own rules and regulations regarding what items can be on a grave and when they will remove these items.

Resin, bronze or concrete items are safer choices and you will notice these placed on headstones and plaques around the cemetery grounds.

Usually, plastic or bronze vases are available within the cemetery grounds to place your floral tributes.

As a rule, breakable items, especially glass, are removed by cemetery staff. The reason for this is these items can be a danger to staff when mowing the lawns as well as other visitors to the cemetery.

Faded items, like artificial flowers as well as objects that interfere with the mowing around lawn graves may be removed.

“Say not in grief ‘he is no more’ but live in thankfulness that he was.”
Hebrew proverb