How Do Community Mausoleums Work? Cost + Planning Explained

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While in-the-ground burials continue to be a popular choice, many families are looking for alternatives. From green burials to cremation, there are a lot of other choices that are becoming more mainstream in this day and age. One popular choice is a community mausoleum instead of a traditional graveyard. 

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Mausoleums are in no way new. In fact, family mausoleums were commonly used until the 10th century, with the oldest constructed over 6,000 years ago. In the 10th century, Christianity emphasized turning away from the use of these structures. However, they’ve become common again in the past 200 years. 

Still, there’s a lot of confusion about different types of mausoleums and how they work. A mausoleum is a way to bury the dead above ground, but there are a lot of different factors like cost and planning to consider. Let’s dive right in. 

What’s a Community Mausoleum?

Firstly, let’s explore what a community mausoleum even is. There are two main types of mausoleums: family mausoleums and community mausoleums. A community mausoleum is a large mausoleum where many people are buried above ground. 

In this type of above-ground burial, the casket is stored in a secure burial vault in a large room (or tomb). In the past, it was common for mausoleums to only hold one casket, but today that’s not very practical. Instead, multiple caskets are usually stacked in vaults on top of each other, creating an above-ground burial community. 

Though these are open to all members of the community, some mausoleums are religious-based. That means you might find a mausoleum associated with a specific church or religion. In many cases, however, these are located in cemeteries and open to all. 

In addition, there are different locations you’ll find community mausoleums. The most well-known are indoor mausoleums, and these are set up to look like a chapel in which crypts are located around a common space. However, you can also find garden mausoleums which are outdoor crypts typically located in a cemetery. These do not have indoor visitor spaces. 

Are there other types of mausoleums?

Community mausoleums are the most popular choice, but they’re not the only choice. The alternative is known as a family mausoleum, and these are created by private families, usually on the family’s property. 

While you’ll likely only see this associated with the rich and elite, it is an option if your family has an existing mausoleum. These are commissioned by families, and they usually only house an individual and the immediate family. This is a special way to keep loved ones together in the afterlife, but it can be costly. 

How are community mausoleums personalized?

While you might think having multiple members of a community buried above ground in the same building would mean there is less attention to the individual, this isn’t usually the case. Most community mausoleums add special touches to help families honor their loved ones. 

It’s common to find any of the following in community mausoleums:

  • Name carvings
  • Plaques
  • Flower vases
  • Flags
  • Religious symbols

In addition, some community mausoleums allow families to purchase specific areas or sections. This allows the close family to be buried together, adding an even more personal touch. Like a traditional outdoor cemetery, there are ways to keep your loved one’s memory alive. 

What are the pros and cons of being buried in a community mausoleum?

Why choose a community mausoleum? When might it be a good fit for you, and when should you consider an alternative?

Pros of a community mausoleum:

  • Environmental protections: If you live in a place prone to flooding or extreme weather, an indoor mausoleum can be more secure from the elements compared to in-ground burial. 
  • Efficient: Because many mausoleums hold hundreds or even thousands of caskets, this is a more efficient use of space. If you live in a city or bustling area, this could be a practical choice. 
  • Accessibility: If your climate is cold in the winter or excessively hot in the summer, an indoor mausoleum creates a neutral, welcoming space for guests. 
  • Cost-effective: Though it will depend on the type of mausoleum you choose, this can be more affordable than a burial.

Cons of a community mausoleum:

  • Expensive: While some mausoleums offer lower-cost pricing, if you want something reserved for your family or outdoors, it will likely be significantly more than a traditional burial. 
  • Maintenance: A lot of steps go into maintaining a mausoleum, from keeping it odorless to protecting caskets, you’ll also want to ensure the facility is well-maintained long-term. 
  • Hard to find: In some places, it’s harder to find mausoleums compared to cemeteries. 
  • Rules: Community mausoleums also have their own rules you’ll need to follow. These can limit visiting hours as well as things you can place near the casket. 
  • Damage: Lastly, you have to be aware that mausoleums are open to the same structural damage of any building over time. 

Ultimately, like all end-of-life decisions, there is a lot to consider about your final resting place. For many, a mausoleum is a perfect compromise when it comes to burials. For others, it’s the wrong choice. 

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How Much Does It Cost to Be Buried in a Community Mausoleum?

The location of your community mausoleum is the most important factor when looking at the price of the above-ground burial. For places that don’t have a high cost of living, you can pay anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. The price in cities skyrockets, sometimes reaching upwards of $10,000.

You’ll pay more depending on the casket’s placement within the community mausoleum, as well. For example, one at eye level that’s easy to see will run you more than a higher or lower casket. 

Similarly, some community mausoleums have extra features or benefits. Some have indoor visiting areas, chapels, gardens, and so on. These will all come at an added cost. The good news is you can always shop around to find the right compromise for your needs and budget. 

How Do You Get Buried Inside a Community Mausoleum?

Whether you’re pre-planning for your own funeral or finding the final resting place for a loved one, there are a lot of steps to consider. The sooner you can purchase in advance, the more flexibility and options you’ll have. 

Here are the steps to take next:

  • Shop around: Your first step is to shop around, visit local mausoleums, and decide which is the best fit. You can usually find mausoleums with cemeteries, but your funeral home is another great resource. 
  • Agree to the terms: Since you’re purchasing burial space, you’ll need to understand the full terms of the agreement. 
  • Payment: There might be different payment options, like all-at-once or a payment plan. If you’re not paying upfront, look for hidden fees.
  • Casket and plaques: Once you’ve decided on the space and made your agreements, it’s time to purchase a casket and plaque. Make sure these reflect your mausoleum’s rules or shop through them to simplify the process. 
  • Internment: Last but not least, the deceased is laid to rest in the crypt.

Getting buried inside a community mausoleum works in the same way as any cemetery. Though the cemetery is above ground, the process is typically the same. As long as you’re open about your needs and budget, you should find the right fit for you and your loved ones. 

Find Your Final Resting Place

Mausoleums have been used throughout human history to honor the dead above ground. Though they aren’t as common as below-ground burials, they’re earning their place in our stories. Whether you’re considering a mausoleum for yourself or a loved one, community mausoleums are a great choice. 

Not only do these have added features like reflection space, visiting rooms, and memorial markers, but they’re a communal space for mourning. They’re also a more efficient use of space compared to a cemetery, making them increasingly common in large, growing cities. 

Ultimately, it’s your choice how you wish to be laid to rest. What’s important is that you have these key conversations with your loved ones so they can make sure your legacy is secured. 


Source:

  1. “History of Mausoleums.” Legacy Headstones. 27 July 2018. legacyheadstones.com

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