What Are Companion Plots at a Cemetery?

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Whether you’re planning for your own future or you’re planning a loved one’s funeral, the process involves making a wide range of decisions. This may include choosing a burial plot in a cemetery.

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Keep in mind that there isn’t merely one single type of plot from which to choose. You have a range of options as you choose which type of burial plot to buy.

For example, instead of a single plot, you may prefer a companion plot. In this guide, you’ll learn what this is, why you might buy one, and what you can expect to pay for one. You’ll also learn about alternatives to companion plots that you may also consider when planning someone’s burial.

Companion Plots Defined

Companion plots are simply two cemetery burial plots side by side. They may also feature companion headstones or a single large headstone. Although traditional companion plots are side by side, some consist of one double-depth space. This is often out of necessity when space in a cemetery is limited.

Why Do People Buy Companion Plots?

There are several reasons someone might choose to buy a companion plot. The following are merely some of the most common. 

Symbolizing romantic love

Two people who are deeply in love may like the idea of being “near” each other even after death. They may therefore plan ahead by purchasing companion plots for themselves. This is likely the most common reason people buy companion plots.

Same-day deaths

While it’s not a pleasant topic to think about, sometimes two people who were close in some capacity die on the same day. This may happen to siblings or spouses, for example. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for their loved ones to bury them in a companion plot.

Other close relationships

This is a rare occurrence, but it’s not completely unheard of. Two people who share an extremely close but entirely platonic relationship may decide they want to remain close via a companion plot after death. For example, they may be close professional colleagues who’ve spent their lives working together toward a common goal, and they like imagining their shared grave serving as a monument to their shared contributions to a cause or vision.

How Much Do Companion Plots Normally Cost?

A wide range of factors will determine any burial plot’s cost. For example, the average cost of a plot can vary significantly from one state to another. This is because the cost of living in a given area tends to influence the cost of burial plots as well. Additionally, a companion plot in a private cemetery is likely to cost more than one in a public cemetery.

That said, the average cost of a burial plot in a public cemetery ranges from $525 to $2,500. The average cost in a private cemetery ranges from $2,000 to $5,000.

You can generally assume the cost of a companion plot will be approximately twice that of a single plot. Keep in mind that in densely-populated urban areas, sometimes a single plot can have extra depth to accommodate multiple burials.

For example, in one New York City cemetery, a single plot that can accommodate up to three burials costs $19,000, while a double plot that can accommodate up to six burials costs $38,000. This illustrates how cemeteries typically price companion plots by simply doubling the price of a single plot.

Are There Any Good Alternatives to Companion Plots?

Again, single plots and companion plots are by no means your only options. Other types of burial plots to consider include the following:

Family plot

The desire to stay close to a loved one even after death is the main reason someone buys a companion plot. However, some people don’t merely want to be close to a romantic partner. They like the idea of remaining close to their entire family after passing.

In this case, they might choose a family plot instead. As the name implies, a family plot is an area of a cemetery set aside for multiple members of a family. Some are relatively small, with just enough plots for all members of a single-family unit, while others are large, consisting of plots for generations of relatives.

Maybe this idea appeals to you. There’s certainly nothing wrong with choosing to purchase a family plot if so. However, it’s smart to consider certain essential factors before committing to this decision.

First, depending on your means, finding a cemetery that offers a family plot that’s both large enough for your needs and affordable enough for your budget may be a challenge. You also need to consider that not all family members may share your desire to have a communal burial space. For example, sometimes those who are very proud of their families want a shared plot for all relatives, without realizing that some relatives feel differently about the idea.

Future costs are also worth considering. In some instances, future generations of a family are responsible for covering maintenance and related costs of an inherited family plot. This can be particularly burdensome if they move away from the area.

None of this is meant to discourage you from thinking about buying a family plot. It’s simply meant to emphasize the importance of accounting for all relevant factors.

Mausoleums

A shared “burial” space doesn’t need to technically be a burial space at all. You could instead choose to buy companion above-ground spaces in a mausoleum.

This is another option worth keeping in mind if you want your family to remain close after death. Although it can be pricey, you could pay to set aside multiple spaces near each other in a mausoleum. Again, you just need to consider how other family members feel about this idea before making a purchase. Be sure to discuss it thoroughly.

Companion plots for cremated remains

This guide has primarily focused on companion plots for traditional burials. However, it’s worth noting that companion plots for cremated remains are also available.

This is naturally an option to consider if you and a loved one with whom you’d like to share a burial space plan on being cremated. Because these spaces tend to be smaller than typical burial plots, they’re also usually less expensive.

Columbarium

Columbariums are essentially mausoleum crypts for cremated remains. They consist of niches in the walls of mausoleums or similar structures. Although a typical columbarium only has enough space for a single urn, some can accommodate multiple urns.

You can also choose to purchase multiple columbariums next to each other. This would serve a similar purpose to that of a companion plot.

Just as urn burial plots are smaller than traditional burial plots, a columbarium is smaller than a mausoleum crypt. That means it will generally cost less. If your budget is very tight, you can save even more money by simply displaying two urns side-by-side in your home.

Personal cemetery

You have to be fairly wealthy to afford this option. That said, it’s worth including on this list, as it often does appeal to families with the necessary financial means.

In many states, it’s legal and possible to set aside land on property you own for a personal cemetery. Many restrictions and regulations apply, and you have to consider that the land may fall out of your family’s ownership in the future, but it’s still an alternative some choose if their family is wealthy and they own an appropriate space.

Shared scattering

Burial, at-home display, and columbariums aren’t the only options for handling someone’s remains after cremation. Some people prefer to have their cremains scattered in an important spot.

Sometimes two people who are very close share that desire. They could ask their loved ones to wait until they’ve both passed, then scatter their ashes together. This can have the same symbolic value as a companion plot for some.

Some feel it may be even more symbolic and meaningful. For example, if you were to scatter two deceased loved one’s ashes together at sea, their ashes would essentially mix together, as if the two souls had become one.

Companion Plots: Together After Death

Whether you’re beginning end-of-life planning for yourself or you’re making arrangements for a loved one’s burial, there are numerous reasons you might decide to buy a companion plot. Hopefully, this guide has helped you more confidently determine if this is an option you’d prefer.


Sources

  1. “FULL PRICE LIST.” The Green-Wood Historic Fund, www.green-wood.com/full-price-list/
  2. “How Much Does a Burial Plot Cost?” Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage, Londen Insurance Group, www.lhlic.com/consumer-resources/burial-plot-cost/#companion
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