A church and a graveyard with rolling hills in the background

 

Written by Jacob Terranova

 

Most people would assume a cemetery is simply a place to bury the body. There are, however, several distinct types of cemeteries, each with a different purpose. Do your families know the difference?

 

Here are the different kinds of cemeteries found in the United States.

 

1. Municipal Cemetery

One of the more common types of cemeteries. The land is owned by the town or city government. Municipal cemeteries are open to everyone.

 

2. Private Cemetery

A private cemetery can be a little more restrictive than a government-owned cemetery. They are usually owned by an organization or company. Some are run for profit and can be more expensive than a municipal cemetery, but also tend to have more resources and are highly maintained.

 

3. Church or Religious Cemetery

These are cemeteries run by a certain church or religious group. They are typically reserved for members of the local church community. While the terms graveyard and cemetery are often used interchangeably, graveyard is actually the proper term for burial land associated with a church.

 

4. Family Cemetery

Family cemeteries aren’t as popular as they used to be. Starting a family cemetery has become increasingly harder due to regulations, and most family cemeteries are older ones. A famous example is the Johnson family cemetery, where President Lyndon B. Johnson and his family are buried.

 

5. Memorial Parks/Gardens/Monuments

What makes a memorial park different is the lack of actual graves or headstones. They typically consist of a monument and well-maintained gardens. The purpose is to honor the lives of the deceased. An example of a memorial park is American Memorial Park on the island of Saipan. The park is to honor the marines who died in WW2.

 

6. Military and Veteran Cemeteries

These are cemeteries reserved for members of the military, veterans, and their families. They are owned and maintained by the government. Some well-known cemeteries include Arlington National Cemetery, Gettysburg National Cemetery, and West Point Cemetery.

 

7. Lawn Beam Cemetery

Lawn beam cemeteries are a bit more modern. They have a raised concrete slab where plaques and memorials sit. The use of the raised concrete makes it easier for workers to mow the cemetery lawn without damaging headstones.

 

8. Green or Natural Cemeteries

A “new” take on cemeteries that returns to a simple way of burial. They typically don’t have the features of a regular cemetery. No headstones, burial vaults, and sometimes even no coffin. The idea is to allow the body to return to nature as quickly as possible. Green burial sites aren’t as abundant as regular cemeteries either, with little more than 90 registered sites in the United States.

 

9. Pet Cemetery

Pet cemeteries have been around for quite some time, proving that dogs (and cats) really are man’s best friend. The oldest pet cemetery in the United States — Hartsdale — dates back to 1896 and is the resting place for more than 80,000 pets.

 

No two cemeteries are alike. For a look at some of the most amazing cemeteries, click here.