Mausoleums are an alternative to earth burial that places the body to rest in an above-ground crypt. Most often associated with New Orleans, where the moist ground makes it impossible to bury human remains underground for any length of time, mausoleums are usually small house-like structures that are organized in a cemetery alongside other interment options. While beautiful and stately, mausoleums do have a tendency to be more expensive, and may even come with stipulations like sharing the space with other families.
All About Mausoleums
Mausoleums are one of the oldest types of formal burial in the world—in fact, the ancient pyramids of Egypt and the Taj Mahal in India are both examples of some of the more elaborate mausoleums in human history. The term is used to describe any outbuilding in which caskets are entombed, whether it is just one casket or several crypts in which various bodies can be laid to rest.
Mausoleums have several benefits. These include:
- Providing a burial place that can withstand weather and the test of time. Because the remains are kept in a dry and clean space, many people find it to be a more comforting and respectful process of decomposition.
- Affordability over the long-term. Many people build mausoleums that are intended to remain in the family for generations, and they can house multiple burials there (usually up to six or eight). Although the structure itself can be costly to erect, it can provide long-term savings, especially in places where burial real estate comes at a premium. There are also some mausoleums in which you can simply purchase a crypt or space, and the costs are similar to a traditional plot of land.
- Offering an efficient use of space. Because mausoleums house several bodies, they can be a more economical use of space. This is one reason why they are so common in European countries, where burial land is limited.
Of course, they come with their own drawbacks, as well. Things to keep in mind when considering a mausoleum include:
- Decay and all of its side effects will still happen. There is no way to permanently preserve a body. Even sealed within a casket and within a crypt inside the mausoleum, the body will still break down. In fact, water that may seep into the mausoleum and other natural processes can do just as much to the casket and body as underground burial.
- The mausoleum may get opened. Although your loved one will remain sealed inside his or her individual crypt, the mausoleum will still be used to house other bodies—especially if it isn’t filled at the time the body is interred. This kind of “disturbance of the peace” puts some people off the idea of mausoleums.
In some locations, you might not have a choice about whether or not you want to opt for a mausoleum or earth burial. In others, the mausoleums might be a higher-priced, more elegant alternative to traditional burial. Whatever your decision, mausoleums have been in existence for centuries and will continue to provide a way to say goodbye to loved ones in a manner befitting their life.