Choosing a cemetery


According to several web sites that provide information concerning cemeteries in Louisiana, Ouachita Parish has approximately 95 cemeteries. There are four perpetual care cemeteries, five publicly owned cemeteries, with the rest being family and church cemeteries. The City of Monroe operates three cemeteries, Monroe City Cemetery, Old City Cemetery and Riverview Cemetery. The City of West Monroe has Hasley Cemetery and Ouachita Parish operates J.S. Clark Cemetery. Because of new zoning laws, which have been passed in recent years, cemeteries for families to be buried in are going to become harder and harder to find.
     Cemeteries are a lot like subdivisions in any city you might live in. They all have different personalities and traits which you might like or dislike.  They also have the responsibility of meeting all of the standards, which are demanded in today’s society and the responsibility of setting forth a foundation for future generations. Just like cities they plan for the future and preserve the past.
     Our grandparents and their forefathers always prepared for death, because it is inevitable. We do not necessarily do that today.  We tend to live for today and not tomorrow and we certainly do not think about the consequences of death.  But if we did, you would want to know what the different types of cemeteries are and how they differ? Once a cemetery is chosen it is usually your final resting place. You must remember that once a funeral has taken place, it becomes just a memory. For the cemetery it is just the beginning. It becomes the last resting place of your dear friends and family members. It is forever the place where you return when paying respects to your loved ones. This is a place you will want to feel safe and comfortable.
     Cemeteries are usually divided into two broad categories: traditional cemeteries and memorial parks and gardens. A traditional cemetery has upright monuments, usually made of stone, better known as tombstones. Many traditional cemeteries have been around for over 200 years and contain a great deal of history, such as architecture, statuary and other art, as well as the history of the people interred there. They often feature lush landscaping and impressive greenery. They can be church cemeteries, family cemeteries, public owned cemeteries or perpetual care cemeteries. They normally do not have a strict set of rules which govern what families can and cannot do. By this it is meant that there is no restrictions on what can and cannot be placed on graves.
     There are four perpetual care cemeteries in Ouachita Parish. By alphabetical order they are, Kilpatrick’s Serenity Gardens Cemetery, Mulhearn Memorial Park Cemetery, Richwood Gardens Cemetery, and Roselawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
     What does a perpetual care cemetery mean to you? It means that once you purchase internment rights a portion of the price of the burial lot or plot is contributed to an endowment care fund. Income for the endowment care fund is used to provide regular care and maintenance of the cemetery. Regular care and maintenance activities can include: cutting grass, planting and caring for trees, maintenance of roads, drainage, hauling dirt, straightening of memorials, etc. The minimum amount to be contributed to the endowment care fund is normally governed by law. In Louisiana the minimum is 10 per cent of the selling price. Louisiana has a state mandated cemetery board that oversees perpetual care cemeteries and the state governs how the endowment care funds are used. Church and family cemeteries are usually taken care of by continuous donations and the generosity of a volunteer to maintain the cemetery. Public cemeteries are maintained by a budget set by the governing body and they have a grounds crew that perform certain task, but not all task deemed necessary in the maintenance of a cemetery. An example of this is that some public owned cemeteries do not straighten and align monuments and some do not provide for the opening and closing of the grave or haul fill dirt for the grave site.
     Perpetual care cemeteries are a newer type of cemetery introduced about 75 years ago.  They are cemeteries that have set rules about what type of memorial can be put on a grave. They have sections devoted to traditional tombstones and they have sections devoted to flat memorials made of bronze and placed on granite bases. These memorials are placed level with the ground to blend in with the beauty of the landscape. They often feature expansive lawns with a variety of trees, flowering beds and gardens, as well as fountains, sculpture or memorial architecture. They are mostly for profit cemeteries and have full time staff that maintains the beauty of the cemetery. The majority of them provide all services necessary for any type of burial or transaction needed at a cemetery.
      The Louisiana Cemetery Board controls how cemeteries are operated. All cemeteries must meet certain guide lines and operate under Title 8 of the Revised Statutes, which sets forth the rules which govern cemeteries.
      The prices of lots or plots at cemeteries can really vary. Prices are normally set based on the lot or plot location in the cemetery. Normally, if they are located short distances from passage ways  they are more expensive than in areas where you have to walk a distance from a passage way. One person may like to be placed by a body of water or a tree, or even a hill in a certain section. Therefore, some sections are priced accordingly. Upright memorials usually take up more grave space than a flat memorial. So the grave for an upright would need more space. So it would be priced different. As a consumer, you must understand that in perpetual care cemeteries everything must be printed in a rule book for you to read and understand.
     When you purchase a lot or plot you are in fact purchasing the right to designate who may be interred in the space provided by the cemetery, rather than purchasing the grave itself, which remains the property and responsibility of the cemetery. You also have a right to place a memorial on the grave as permitted by the rule book provided by the cemetery authority. Cemetery terminology has changed through the years. Upon purchasing a grave, in our grandparent’s time, you were handed a deed. Today, it is called the “Right of Internment” so there will be no confusion about the rights you have at a cemetery
    As a family looking at cemetery property it is important to take into consideration the needs and wishes of everyone involved. Take the time and effort to make sure you are comfortable with the decision you are making. Choosing your final resting place is not an easy thing to do. But, nature has decreed that every person shall once in their life perform the feat of dying and since our society demands that the dead shall be interred in certain specified grounds and that the control of those grounds be placed in the hands of competent and respected persons. Then this becomes an important step in planning for your future and preserving your past.


Wow, very interesting, Marvin. Thanks for posting this.