What is a Mausoleum?
If you've ever visited a cemetery, you've possibly seen an above-ground structure that was made of stone. These structures are known as mausoleums and are a preferred method of above-ground burial for many individuals and families. If you've never heard of a mausoleum or are interested in purchasing one, here's what you need to know.
What is a mausoleum?
Mausoleum's definition according to Merriam-Webster is: “a usually stone building with places for entombment of the dead above ground.”
In modern usage, a mausoleum is sometimes referred to as a tomb and serves the purpose of storing one or more bodies instead of burying them in the ground. Mausoleums are typically made of granite or stone and are built to hold both caskets and urns.
Mausoleum vs. crypt: what's the difference?
Mausoleums and crypts are similar in that they both can be used for above-ground burial. The main difference between the two is that mausoleums started out as elaborate and large structures. Modern mausoleums are generally much smaller than they were when they first came into popularity in the late 19th century, but they're still larger than crypts and are often used to house more than one body. Crypts are typically smaller structures that can only hold one or two bodies and are usually sections that are within the mausoleum (the outer structure is the mausoleum, the inner structure is the crypt).
How much does a mausoleum cost?
The cost of a mausoleum can vary greatly depending on the size, type, location, and materials used. Before considering pricing, it's important to note that there are multiple types of mausoleums. Mausoleums can be privately owned (when they’re only for you or your family) or publicly owned (also known as community mausoleums), and this will inevitably influence the price -- public mausoleums are often much less expensive than private mausoleums. In addition to the public vs. private price difference, it's important to consider the type of crypt you're interested in purchasing. If you're trying to purchase a space in a public mausoleum for one person, you can expect to spend around $7,000 on the low end. If you're purchasing a private one or two person space in a mausoleum, the price then jumps up to around $25,000 on the low end. If you're looking into a private, larger walk-in mausoleum, you should expect to spend at least a couple hundred thousand dollars.
How to reduce the cost of a mausoleum
If you're considering a mausoleum but are worried about the price, there are a few ways that you can reduce the cost.
- Contact cemeteries (or churches) that offer mausoleums you're interested in and compare the prices before deciding on where you'd like to purchase.
- Consider purchasing a space in a public mausoleum as they're less expensive than having a private mausoleum.
- Consider using cremation as the method of disposition and purchasing a space in a columbarium. Columbariums (mausoleums where cremains are interred) are typically less expensive than traditional mausoleums since the required space is much smaller.
- Choose a garden mausoleum instead of an indoor mausoleum as these are often less expensive (since they offer no indoor meeting space that needs to be maintained or heated).
It's also important to remember that regardless of which mausoleum you're interested in purchasing, it'll be a big expense. Doing your due diligence before deciding on a spot will likely pay off in the end.
What is inside a mausoleum?
The inside of a mausoleum crypt can vary depending on the size and style of the mausoleum. Some mausoleums are very simple with just one or two rooms, while others can be much more complex with multiple rooms, corridors, and even gardens. The inside of the mausoleum also depends on how remains are being stored in the mausoleum. For example, if a mausoleum is meant to store cremains (also known as a columbarium), it can generally store a larger amount of remains than if the mausoleum is only used to store sarcophagi (bodies in caskets).
The inside of the mausoleum will vary depending on the method of disposition you've chosen for the relevant body, the type of mausoleum you're purchasing, the location, the style, and the number of people you're intending to have in the mausoleum.
How is a body placed in a mausoleum?
The process of placing a body in a mausoleum can vary depending on the type of disposition you've chosen. If you're choosing to have cremated remains placed in the mausoleum, the process will be different than if you're having a mausoleum burial where the body is placed in a casket (and then placed in a crypt).
If you're having cremated remains placed in the mausoleum, the cremains will typically be delivered to the mausoleum in an urn. The urn can then be placed on a shelf or in a niche within the mausoleum. Some mausoleums will have special places for urns to be placed, while others will simply have shelves where urns can be stored.
If you're having a whole body buried in a casket, the body will typically be delivered to the mausoleum in a hearse. The casket can then be placed in a crypt and sealed within the mausoleum.
How are mausoleum crypts sealed?
Mausoleum crypts are typically first sealed with a piece of sheet metal that's sealed along the edge with caulking or glue. After the first seal is in place, the crypt is then sealed with a second seal that's typically made of granite, marble or stone.
Can you open a mausoleum?
Mausoleums can be opened, but only by authorized personnel. The process of opening a mausoleum is called exhumation and is typically done when someone wants to move the body of a loved one to another cemetery or location. Exhumation can also be done for legal reasons, such as if there is a court order to exhume a body for an autopsy.
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