Burial Services

Traditionally, a burial service would involve a visitation that would be followed by a funeral service in a church, or another place of worship. The casket would be present at both the events, and it is the family’s decision if the casket was open or not. The final resting place could be in the ground (earth burial), or the casket could be entombed in a mausoleum (above-ground burial). Religious, cultural and family traditions play a huge part in selecting what type of burial is done. 

Types of Cemeteries

There are a few different types of cemeteries that are in Nova Scotia. Some cemeteries in the Annapolis Valley and the rest of Nova Scotia have a combination of the following types of cemeteries.

Monumental Cemetery: This is what most people think of when they think of a cemetery, and they are the most common. Monumental cemeteries are the most traditional and have headstones and monuments that are raised vertically above ground. There are many types of headstones that are used in these cemeteries.

Lawn Cemetery: Lawn cemeteries are similar to monumental cemeteries. The main difference is that lawn cemeteries mark the graves with a small in-ground commemorative plaque. Some cemeteries will allow the families to have more detailed plaques, while others will have a standard design for cemetery.

Mausoleums: Mausoleums are above ground buildings that are designed as an interment space or a burial chamber. The term tomb is commonly used to describe a mausoleum. However, a mausoleum is a type of tomb, and a tomb can be a type of mausoleum. One of the most famous mausoleums in the world is the Taj Mahal in India.

Columbarium: A columbarium could be a building or a wall, which is designed to house cremated remains. It is possible to keep the cremated remains with the family or scattered them somewhere that is significant to the family, and the loved one, a columbarium would act as a place for family and friends to visit and mourn. Some families will also store the urn of scattered remains in the columbarium.

Natural Cemetery: Natural cemeteries are the newest type of cemetery in North America, and are often referred to as "green"  or "eco-cemeteries". They generally have strict rules, allowing only for natural burials. Natural burials can also be done at most monumental and lawn cemeteries. Depending on the natural cemetery and the family, conventional markings like headstones are replaced with a natural rock with the name engraved, or a tree may be planted to mark the spot. It is recommended to check with the cemetery before planting any trees or brushes around a grave.

Burial FAQ

What is opening and closing, and why does it cost so much?

Opening and closing fees could include up to 50 separate services that are provided by the cemetery. Many times, this fee will include administration costs, and permanent record keeping, opening and closing the grave, placing and removing lowering devices, setting up and removal of fake grass. These fees can also include leveling of the grave, re-grading, sodding, and continuing care of the grave and the cemetery.

Could we dig the grave to avoid the fees for opening and closing the grave?

The opening and closing of the grave is one part of the opening and closing fee. Due to safety concerns, the public generally do not open and close graves, it is the responsibility of cemetery personnel.

Why is it important to have somewhere to visit?

The desire to be remembered and remembering those that have touched our lives is a part of human nature. Cemeteries are just one way that people remember and memorialize their loved ones. Throughout human history, there are many examples of rituals to memorialize the dead, such rituals may be cultural and also mark differing time periods.

Psychologists have found that remembrance practices, including funeral services and visiting the grave, are an important part of emotional healing because it provides closure and allows the healing process to begin earlier. A permanent resting spot for the deceased is a dignified treatment of your loved one’s remains.

What happens if a cemetery runs out of land?

There are many cemeteries that have run out of land in Nova Scotia. When cemeteries run out of land, they will continue to operate and serve the community. Some cemeteries have crematoriums, which continue to be added to. Older, historic cemeteries could offer guided tours, such as Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, NS.

In a hundred or more years, will the cemetery still be here?

There are many cemeteries in Nova Scotia that have been around for centuries and are still being visited and used today. There are older cemeteries around the world that have gone untouched, so we believe that cemeteries are going to continue to stay open.

How long after the death must someone be buried?

There is no law stating someone has to be buried within a specific time frame, however, there are some cultures and religions which have guidelines about the time frame someone should be buried in. The amount of time between death and burial will depend on the amount of time it takes to secure all the permits, and notify the family. Public Health laws may also dictate time limits for disposition.  The weather can also affect the amount of time between the passing and the burial. Please speak with a funeral director for more information.

Is Embalming Required for Burial?

No. Embalming is a choice that depends on a number of factors. There are some public health laws that will require embalming if there is going to be an open casket, or if the loved one is going to be transported by rail or air. A funeral director can help examine the benefits of embalming, and if it would be required.

What other options are there besides ground burial?

Ground burial is the most popular in Nova Scotia, but some cemeteries have mausoleums for above ground burials. Many cemeteries have more choices for families who have selected cremation. This could involve a columbarium or an interment location for urns.

What are grave liners and burials vaults?

These two items have similar functions. Grave liners are many times made from wood and are used stop the graves surfaces from sinking in. Burial vaults are designed to protect a casket for longer than a grave liner. They can be made from a wide variety of materials, including fiberglass, plastic, bronze, copper, and steel.

Do I need to purchase a burial vault?

Many cemeteries have regulations which state a grave needs to have a basic grave liner for safety and maintenance. Some will even include the cost of a basic wood grave liner in the opening and closing fees. If the cemetery requires a grave liner, you can also use a burial vault in place of the liner. Some smaller cemeteries do not require a grave liner or burial vault.