When it comes to planning for the end of life, one important decision that many people face is choosing a final resting place. In the UK, there are two main options available regarding burial: a cemetery or a natural burial. While both options offer a place for the deceased to be laid to rest, there are significant differences between the two, which include their purpose, location, and the type of burial that takes place.
A cemetery is a dedicated piece of land set aside for the burial of the dead. It is usually owned and maintained by a local council or a private company, and is open to the public. Cemeteries are often found in urban or suburban areas and so easily accessible by car or public transport. They are generally well-maintained, with neatly trimmed grass, well-manicured gardens, and often have a chapel or other buildings on the grounds.
One of the main purposes of a cemetery is to provide a place for the dead to be remembered and honoured. Many cemeteries have a range of headstones and memorials to mark the graves of those who have passed away. Some cemeteries also have a book of remembrance, where the names of those buried there are recorded for posterity.
Cemeteries are also a place where people can come to pay their respects to their loved ones. Many people visit cemeteries on a regular basis to lay flowers, say a prayer, or just spend some quiet time at their loved one’s graveside. Cemeteries are also often used for funeral services, with many people choosing to hold a traditional funeral service in a chapel or at the graveside.
One of the main differences between a cemetery and a natural burial is the type of burial that takes place. In a traditional cemetery, the body is typically cremated or buried in a casket. Cremation is the process of reducing the body to ashes through the use of heat, and is the most common form of burial in the UK. Cremation can be seen as a more environmentally-friendly option, as it uses less land and resources than a traditional burial.
However, many people are now choosing to opt for a natural burial, which involves burying the body in a natural setting without the use of a casket or with an ecologically friendly casket or any other form of embalming. Natural burials aim to return the body to the earth in a way that is more in keeping with nature and the environment.
Natural burials take place in a dedicated area of land, known as a natural burial ground. These grounds are typically located in rural areas and are often surrounded by natural beauty, such as forests, fields, or woodland. Natural Burial Grounds provide a beautiful and restful environment to visit and be a place that families can visit to enjoy the surroundings and to remember their loved ones.
Natural burials are often seen as a more environmentally-friendly option, as they do not use any chemicals or other substances that could potentially harm the environment. The body is typically buried in a biodegradable shroud or casket, which breaks down over time and becomes part of the earth.
One of the main benefits of natural burials is that they offer a more personal and intimate setting for the final resting place. Many people find the idea of being buried in a peaceful and natural setting to be more appealing than being laid to rest in a crowded cemetery. This is particularly becoming a problem with inner city cemeteries which are becoming full. Remaining plots can be scarce and very expensive. Natural burials also offer the opportunity to be more creative with the burial site, with many people choosing to have a tree planted or a memorial stone placed at the graveside.
Another difference between a cemetery and a natural burial is the cost. Cemeteries are typically more expensive than natural burial grounds, as they require more maintenance and upkeep. The cost of a traditional burial can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the location of the cemetery, the type of plot chosen, and the headstone or memorial chosen. Natural burials are generally less expensive, as there are no costs associated with embalming, and the use of a biodegradable shroud or casket is often cheaper than a traditional casket.
In terms of regulations, both cemeteries and natural burial grounds are subject to strict rules and guidelines. In the UK, all burials are governed by the Burial Acts of 1857 and 1953, which set out the legal requirements for the burial and interment of the dead. This includes the requirement for a burial certificate, which must be obtained before the burial can take place.
In terms of the environment, both cemeteries and natural burial grounds can have an impact on the local ecosystem. Cemeteries often use chemicals such as pesticides and fertilisers to maintain the grass and gardens, which can potentially harm the environment. Natural burial grounds, on the other hand, aim to have as minimal an impact on the environment as possible, with the use of biodegradable materials and the promotion of natural habitats.
In conclusion, while both cemeteries and natural burial grounds offer a place for the deceased to be laid to rest, there are significant differences between the two. Cemeteries are usually found in urban or suburban areas and are open to the public, while natural burial grounds are located in rural areas and are often surrounded by natural beauty. Cemeteries offer traditional burials, with the body typically cremated or embalmed and buried in a casket, while natural burials involve the burial of the body in a natural setting with a shroud or eco-friendly casket or embalming. Natural burials are generally less expensive than traditional burials and are often seen as a more environmentally-friendly option. Ultimately, the choice between a cemetery and a natural burial will depend on personal preferences and circumstances, and it is important to carefully consider all of the options before making a decision.