There are many reasons to visit a grave. Naturally, one of the most common is to remember someone important in your life who died. Or, you may want to visit the grave of an ancestor you never met to develop a greater sense of connection to your heritage. Sometimes, visiting a grave is also a way to learn more about history.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Information Will You Need Before You Try to Find a Grave in Puerto Rico?
- Puerto Rico-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave
- Steps for Finding a Grave in Puerto Rico for Free
The problem is, you might not always know precisely where the grave you’re looking for actually is. Maybe you know the grave you’re trying to find is in Puerto Rico, but you don’t know specifically where in Puerto Rico you can locate it.
Don’t worry if this is the case. There are numerous methods and resources that can help you find a grave in Puerto Rico without spending any money. This guide will explain the process.
What Information Will You Need Before You Try to Find a Grave in Puerto Rico?
You don’t want to dive headfirst into looking for a grave in Puerto Rico without gathering some basic information first. Information that will make your search a little easier includes the following:
This is a simple point, but it’s an important one. You naturally need to know someone’s name before you can find their grave. It is also helpful if you know some other details.
For example, try to find out the approximate date when the person passed. Even if you only know the year, this can make finding their grave easier.
Another helpful detail is information about where they were living when they died or where they spent most of their life. This may help you narrow down your search area to a smaller region.
It’s not uncommon for people to bury loved ones in cemeteries that specifically serve members of their own religion or cultural group. Make a list of cultural details that may help you track down someone’s grave more quickly.
Participation in special groups
Similar to religious cemeteries, there are also cemeteries that serve those members of certain special groups. For instance, this is why veterans cemeteries exist.
Consider the grave you’re trying to find is one that may be located in such a cemetery. This is another detail that can help you track it down.
If you’re looking for the grave of a distant relative or a historical figure, there’s a chance you may also be able to dig up some other useful information that will make finding their grave easier. For instance, maybe another relative in your family has old letters or similar documents you can borrow. It’s possible the information it includes will lead you to the grave you’re seeking.
Puerto Rico-Specific Resources to Help You Find a Grave
There is no one right way to find a grave in Puerto Rico. This is because there are numerous tools and resources available that can help you in your search. Options to consider include:
Find a Grave
Find a Grave is exactly what it sounds like: an online resource that allows users to look up cemetery information and grave locations. The Puerto Rico section of this resource is a great place to start your search. Just be aware, the tool is most helpful when you know which municipality a cemetery might be in. Thus, when conducting initial research, consider using what you find to narrow down your list of areas where you think a person’s grave most likely is.
FamilySearch is similar to Find a Grave, but its format is more akin to that of a wiki. On its Puerto Rico page you will find links to and information about a wide range of tools that you may use when searching for a grave.
Puerto Rico’s Department of Health Demographic Registry
Another way to find a grave in Puerto Rico is to request a copy of their death certificate from Puerto Rico’s Department of Health Demographic Registry. Because there are several stipulations and policies regarding who can obtain a copy of a death certificate and how they must go about requesting one, it’s best to click on the above link and check the instructions thoroughly.
It’s unlikely a person’s death certificate will give you direct information about their grave or burial. However, it can give you information that will make your search easier. For example, it may tell you where they died. Once you know when someone died, you’ll know which part of Puerto Rico their grave can most likely be found. You may thus focus on cemeteries in that area when looking into potential grave locations.
If you have a general idea of where in Puerto Rico a grave may be, you can search for libraries and historical societies in the area. They may have archives with obituaries or other information about deaths.
Steps for Finding a Grave in Puerto Rico for Free
This guide is meant to help you find a grave in Puerto Rico both with ease and without having to spend money. One way to achieve this goal is to simplify the process into a few basic steps. They include the following:
1. Start simple with an obituary search
Again, the resources in the previous section of this guide can help you find a grave with relative ease. However, using them does typically require devoting some time to research.
That may not be necessary. Many obituaries are available online these days. These include not only obituaries of those who died since the internet existed, but potentially of pre-internet deaths as well. Many newspapers have digital archives of their old issues that can sometimes include obituary pages.
If you find an obituary online it may contain information regarding where a burial is to take place. Before using any of the tools in the above section, use search terms like “[persona’s name] obituary” or “[person’s name] death” on Google. This may save you a lot of time. It can also be an effective solution if you want to know how to find out if someone died at all.
2. Use the resources here
There’s no guarantee a simple Google search will lead you to the obituary of the person whose grave you are looking for. If not, you can proceed to the next step, taking advantage of the various tools this overview has covered.
Just remember to do your research first by gathering as many of the details previously mentioned as you can. Tools and resources that allow users to look up information about graves and burials tend to be more helpful when you have more information to offer.
Once you’ve gathered your information, start using these tools and resources. You may want to use all of them at the same time to limit how long it takes to find a grave.
3. Narrow down your list
The tools and resources in this article certainly may help you learn the exact location of a grave. However, even if they don’t, they should assist you in narrowing down your search to a smaller list of potential candidates. Make such a list and proceed to the next step.
4. Check for cemetery websites
Once you have a list of cemeteries where you may find a grave in Puerto Rico, check to see if those cemeteries have websites. Sometimes a cemetery’s website will have a search function that allows users to search for graves. These tools may also let you download maps of the cemetery to make finding a specific grave easier. For more information on this topic, check our guide on how to find a grave in a cemetery.
5. Contact the cemetery
This step might not be necessary if a cemetery’s website does have a search tool. If it doesn’t, you can call the cemeteries on your list directly or email management.
Explain whose grave you’re looking for and why you want to know whether it is located in a given cemetery. A member of the team will likely be able to check their records and confirm whether a particular grave is in their cemetery or not. If it is, they might also provide you with more information about its specific location.
At this point, you’re also likely thinking about planning a visit to the grave once you’ve found it. You can prepare accordingly by considering what you may do when you get there. For example, you may want to leave an item to show respect at the grave of an ancestor. Check our guide on what to leave at a grave for inspiration if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas.
Finding a Grave in Puerto Rico Can be Easy and Inexpensive
As this guide has probably made clear, there is no universally effective method for finding a grave in Puerto Rico. That said, because there are so many low-cost ways to conduct your search, if you’re persistent, there’s a good chance you will be able to find the grave you’re looking for.