Burial Services

Traditionally, a burial service involves a visitation, followed by a funeral service in a church, or other place of worship.  The casket is typically present at both these events, and it is your decision on whether to have the casket open or not.  Some families are opting to have the casket burial prior to the ceremony, so if there is a reception, the flow of people from the service to the reception is seamless and without the interruption of waiting for the family to return from the cemetery. You have the option of having the remains interred (earth burial), or it may be entombed in a crypt inside a mausoleum (above ground burial).  Family or religious traditions are often a factor for choosing burial.  Decisions need to be made on whether the body needs to be embalmed, what kind of casket to use, what cemetery to use and what to put on the gravestone.

Download our traditional casket pamphlet here

Cemetery Types

Monumental cemetery: A monumental cemetery is the traditional style of cemetery where headstones or other monuments made of marble or granite rise vertically above the ground.  There are countless different types of designs for headstones, ranging from very simple to large and complex. All cemeteries in our local counties, are Monumental Cemeteries.

Mausoleum: A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or people.  A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the mausoleum.  There are a number of personal mausoleum's within our local cemeteries.

Columbarium: Columbarium walls are generally reserved for cremated remains.  While cremated remains can be kept at home by families or scattered somewhere significant to the deceased, a columbarium provides friends and family a place to come to mourn and visit.  Columbarium walls do not take up a lot of space and it is a cheaper alternative to a burial plot.

Burial FAQ

What is Opening and Closing and why is it so expensive?

Opening and closing fees refer to the digging or the preparation of an earth burial.  The opening and closing of graves, whether it is a casket or an urn burial, is always arranged on your behalf, by the funeral director. The costs associated with this service is considered a 'cash disbursement' which means, it is a service the funeral home organizes and oversees but is not a service that the funeral home provides itself, an third party provider is required for cash disbursements.  At the time of burial, the funeral home will contact the record keeper of the required cemetery, that record keeper will mark the grave with stakes. Once this has been done, the cemetery technicians are contacted and they provide the staff, equipment and supplies necessary to properly open the grave, set the grave up, installation and removal of the lowering device; placement and removal of artificial grass dressing and matting at the grave site, leveling and crowning the grave with the remainder earth.  Please keep in mind, that it is not the responsibility of the funeral home or the cemetery technicians to provide perpetual care of the burial site. Once the initial work is completed, the responsibility of the maintenance and upkeep of the grave is the family or the cemetery, depending if perpetual care is an option that is provided on behalf of the cemetery. The cost for opening closing can vary by location, in town and out of town are typically two different rates. The funeral director will explain this during the arrangement conference.  

Can we dig our own grave to avoid the charge for opening and closing?

The actual opening and closing of the grave is just one component of the opening and closing fee.  Due to safety issues which arise around the use of machinery on cemetery property and the protection of other gravesites, the actual opening and closing of the grave is conducted by cemetery technicians only, arranged by the funeral home. Cremation graves can be done by family members.

Why is having a place to visit so important?

To remember and to be remembered are natural human needs.  A permanent memorial in a cemetery provides a focal point for remembrance and memorializing the deceased.  Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture.  Psychologists say that remembrance practices, from the funeral or memorial service to permanent memorialization, serve an important emotional function for survivors by helping them bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin.  Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased is a dignified treatment for a loved one’s mortal remains, which fulfills the natural human desire for memorialization.

In a hundred years will this cemetery still be there?

We think of cemetery lands as being in perpetuity.  There are cemeteries throughout the world that have been in existence for hundreds of years.

How soon after or how long after a death must an individual be buried?

There is no law that states a specific time from for burial.  Considerations that will affect timeline include the need to secure all permits and authorizations, notification of family and friends, preparation of cemetery site and religious considerations.  Public heath laws may have limitations on the maximum length of time allowed to pass prior to final disposition.  In some towns, winter vaults are available for burial at a later date to avoid additional costs for snow removal within cemeteries;  however, locally, we do bury year round, unless extenuating circumstances prevail.

Does a body have to be embalmed before it is buried?

No.  Embalming is a choice which depends on factors like if there is to be an open casket viewing of the body or if there is to be an extended time between death and internment.  Public health laws require embalming if the body is going to be transported by air or transit

What options are available besides ground burial?

Besides ground burial, some cemeteries offer interment in lawn crypts or entombment in mausoleums.  In addition, most cemeteries provide choices for those who have selected cremation.  These often include placement of cremated remains in a niche of a columbarium or interment in an urn space. If one of these alternative options is something you may be interested in, please speak to us at the funeral home, we can arrange and help you to design what you wish.

What are burial vaults and grave liners?

These are the outside containers into which the casket is placed.  Burial vaults are designed to protect the casket and may be made of a variety or combination of materials including concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, bronze, plastic or fiberglass.  A wood grave liner is a lightweight wood which simply keeps the grave surface from sinking in for a period of time.

Must I purchase a burial vault?

A burial vault is not required by law in Nova Scotia, however, for additional protection of the casket or urn, steel and fiberglass vaults are available for purchase through the funeral home. 

There are alternatives to burial. See Cremation Services