When researching ancestors, learn the name of the cemetery where they are buried. After the name is known, locate the cemetery. Learn about the names on nearby plots and other burials with the same surname.

What type of records exist for the cemetery, and who has those records? Did a mortuary prepare the body?

Search for mortuary records, the obituary and a copy of the death certificate. Each of those sources reveal details about ancestors.

Cremation has been used throughout history and has sharply increased in popularity in recent years.

An example is the United States.

In 1999, 25% of remains in our country were cremated, and by 2016, 42% were cremated. One of the major reasons for the change is funeral cost.

Because of its growing popularity, cremation affects the type of burial as well as the type of grave marker.

Ashes can be scattered or placed in an urn that is taken to a mausoleum, buried or stored on a shelf. Sometimes, ashes are placed in a “bio urn,” which will become part of the earth where flowers or a tree are planted.

Some countries have religions that favor cremation. An example is Japan, where close to 100% of bodies are cremated. The practice is also popular in densely populated areas such as Hong Kong.

Many cemeteries are running out of space. In London, the largest cemetery has more than 780,000 graves.

When it began to run out of space, the leaders adopted new guidelines.

After a grave is 76 years old, a notice is placed on the grave that it will be reused. If no one objects, the stone is reversed, and the name of a new burial is etched on the surface. What remains of the older grave is buried deeper, and the new grave is buried above it.

That approach has already been used in some older English cemeteries.

When I visited a small cemetery in Prestwich a few years ago, I saw several tall stones that were engraved with up to 10 names. Those graves had been reused for more than 100 years.

In Sweden, a family is responsible for a loved one’s grave for 25 years after installation of the tombstone.

That responsibility includes a yearly fee for grounds maintenance. At the end of 25 years, if the family decides not to pay the fee, the stone is removed, grass planted and the plot reused when needed.

In Germany, the local government leases a grave site to a family for a period of time, which is usually 15-30 years.

At the end of the lease, the family is contacted. If the lease is not renewed, the grave contents are removed, and the site is owned by the government and is reused.

Comments or suggestions? Contact Frankie Meyer at frankiemeyer@yahoo.com.

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