Monday, May 18, 2009

Ask the Undertaker: Ashes and Apple Trees


Dear Pat,
So I was thinking, people have things buried with them all the time, right? Is there a right or wrong list for what is acceptable? I remember the Ripley's 'believe it or not' story about the apple growing out of the grave that it was buried in... Anyway, I want to be cremated and my wife wants to be buried. She also wants us to be together. Can our daughter bury my ashes with her if I go first? Also, as a businessman, would you charge extra in that case for putting two people into one grave?
Thanks! Ari

Dear Ari,
Personally, I would love to have an apple tree grow out of my grave, but I'm not sure who would want to eat the apples! This question actually comes up a lot, and many people put things in caskets or send items along with a person to the crematory. I think that it can be a great way for people to express how they feel about their loved one, and a way to honor things that were important to them. The only guidelines I would worry about are safety for the living and respect for the dead. I posted an article on this subject in November called "You Can take it with you". As far as the plans for you and your wife, it all depends on who dies first. If you die first, your family can just hold on to your cremated remains until your wife dies. Then, a family member or the funeral director can place your cremated remains in her casket for burial together. This is a practice that has become pretty popular these days, and there should be no additional charge for this from the funeral home. You may end up with an additional administrative fee from the cemetery for record keeping, as they are required to maintain their records forever. Most cemeteries will allow at least one additional cremated remains to be buried in the same space, so if your wife dies first, you should still be able to be buried together. Check with your cemetery to find out their policy. Usually limits on the number of burials in one grave are based on leaving enough room for everyone's name on the marker, rather than how many remains could actually fit in the grave. If your ashes are buried on top of your wife's casket, you will have an additional opening and closing charge for that service from the cemetery, and the charge from the funeral home for their services at the cemetery as well. Most cemeteries and funeral homes will charge a lower fee for their services in the case of cremated remains because there is less labor and equipment required. Sometimes, burial requests get even more complicated. In November, I posted another story, 'Together Forever' about a mother and child who died only a few days apart. The family wanted them to be buried in the same casket.
Best regards,
Pat McNally, Undertaker

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