Why do some cemeteries allow any type of monument but others have strict restrictions?

Anyone who has worked in the monument business and has had to deal with cemeteries on a regular basis knows how much one cemetery’s restrictions differ from another’s. When I am contacted by a client to design a monument, one of the very first questions that I ask them is “Have you checked with the cemetery to ensure that the monument you would like to purchase is allowed?”. Sadly, many times people are not even aware that there can be restrictions on which monuments are allowed until it comes time to design and purchase one. If you have not yet purchased a burial plot for your loved one, or you are researching in order to purchase a plot and monument pre-need, please refer to my blog about what to know when purchasing a burial plot: https://mikeslaseretchingsartinmemorials.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/what-you-should-know-before-purchasing-a-burial-plot/

Typically, when a cemetery has restrictions on what type of monuments may be installed on their plots, it is for one of two reasons.

Religious Affiliation

The first of these reasons has to do with the cemetery’s religious affiliation. Although there are a few Baptist and Methodist cemeteries which require specific religious designs on the monuments placed within them, from our experience, Catholic cemeteries tend to be the most strict. When I am told that it is a Catholic cemetery, I can normally guarantee that the monument design is going to have to have the “praying hands” design or specific crosses. Although many cemeteries which have restrictions will bend the rules if the plot owner or their loved ones request it, Catholic cemeteries typically will not allow any exceptions to their restrictions, not matter how much a loved one begs them to reconsider.

I am not in any way “putting down” the Catholic cemeteries. From what I gather from speaking with several devout Catholics, the specific designs are required because according to their faith, even the monument on your final resting place should show your Catholic faith. The praying hands with the rosary and the specific crosses are meant to represent that you were a devout Catholic, who deserves to be in God’s good graces. Therefore, anyone who is purchasing a plot in a Catholic cemetery should know beforehand that there will most likely be severe restrictions placed upon what is and is not allowed. If, for whatever reason, you do not wish to include these Catholic symbols on your monument, it may be best for you to consider purchasing a plot in a non denominational cemetery.

Non-denominational and non religious cemeteries are typically the most laid back when it comes to the restrictions on what monuments can be placed on their plots. No matter where you live, you should be able to locate a cemetery which will allow you to have the type of monument you desire. From my research as well as what I’ve learned from working with people all over the country, you should be able to locate a non-denominational or a non religious cemetery in your area.

The only nation wide exception that I have found when it comes to the cemeteries which are the strictest is military cemeteries. Normally, there are no exceptions, ever, for any reason to what a military cemetery allows. The monuments in these cemeteries are normally a plain cross shaped upright monument or a gray flush marker with lettering for the names and dates only. But, its common knowledge that when you decide to be buried in a government run cemetery that its going to be fairly generic. That is a decision that must be made by the family. However, be sure to keep in mind that it is always possible to relocate your loved one if you do not feel comfortable with their resting place or you feel as if they are not being honored in the way they should. While this is not an easy process, it is always an option when your peace of mind is being disrupted.

Easy Maintenance

The other main reason for cemetery restrictions is to ensure easy maintenance of the cemetery. If you were to walk through an older cemetery and then take a walk through a newer one, you will most likely notice that there is much more variety in an older cemetery than in a newer one. It is only very recently that cemeteries began allowing only flush markers in their cemeteries. When a cemetery does not allow any upright or slant monuments, it is typically to ensure that the caretaker is able to quickly and easily cut the grass, without having to cut around each monument individually. When every monument in an entire cemetery is a flush marker, the caretaker needs only drive right over top of them to cut the grass. 

If your loved one’s final resting place is in a cemetery which only allows flush markers, do not get discouraged. I have had many clients contact me in tears because they felt as if they could not honor their loved one’s they way they felt they should with something as generic as a flush marker. Thanks to modern technology, we can do just about anything. Even if a cemetery requires that the flush marker be gray, or another color which does not allow laser etching, we have many options for designing a beautiful, unique memorial to your loved one.

Also, keep in mind that you can always create a memorial garden outside of the cemetery if you feel as if the monument placed on their burial plot has not done them justice. When I lost a loved one and was not able to help create the monument because their spouse did not want any suggestions, we designed a bench to honor our loved one and placed it in his mother’s garden. So, we have a place where we can go to remember him and we were able to create a beautiful memorial which truly reflected the person he was, as our final gift to him.

It is important to remember that each cemetery has a different set of rules and regulations. Prior to staring your search for the perfect monument, it is best to request a written description of these rules and regulations. In doing this, you will ensure that the monument you choose will be approved and accepted by the cemetery.

If you have any questions regarding cemetery restrictions in general, please feel free to leave a comment. To begin designing a monument for your loved one, visit our website at http://www.mikeslaseretching.com.

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