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History of Burials in America | Funeral Homes

Burials are a well-known part of funerals in Chesterfield, but the American history of burials is quite interesting as you review how burials have evolved from the earliest colonists to modern times.

The practice of burying our dead has been around for centuries. When the first colonists arrived in North America, they followed the practice of Native Americans, who set aside portions of land as burial grounds.

Burial grounds were considered to be sacred ground, but graves were usually not marked. The dead were usually just wrapped up in something and laid in a hollowed-out portion of the specially designated land.

When the Puritans buried their dead, a simple ceremony was held. After the body of the deceased was wrapped, a bell was rung to call locals to the burial grounds (which were usually located in the center of towns). The deceased was buried without any grave marker after a prayer was read.

There was a practical reason for all of this. The Puritans were surrounded by Native American tribes. By keeping their burial land in the middle of town and leaving the graves unmarked, it was impossible for their neighbors on every side to know how many of the colonists had died.

Their fear was that their town would be attacked if Native Americans saw the village numbers quickly dwindling because of a high death rate.

Another reason why Puritan burials were done without much fanfare is because, theologically they believed that as soon as someone died, their soul was already in Paradise, so the body was just a empty vessel that no longer served any useful purpose.

However, as more people were born and arrived to the colonies, and as death rates stabilized from earlier days, burial grounds quickly reached capacity. Not only did the decaying dead emit noxious odors, but they also attracted wild animals and humans in search of precious objects they could steal off the remains.

By the end of the 17th century, some of the wealthier American colonists began to establish private burial grounds for their families. They marked the spot of each grave with a marker so that each of their deceased family members could have their own burial place.

Much of colonial America at that point consisted of farmers. Farmers began to bury their dead in designated places on their farms. While most churches in the colonies did not have graveyards, Catholic churches began to build their own so that their parishioners could be buried on church grounds.

The 1700’s saw the beginning of cemeteries and graveyards. Although cemeteries were not actually built – and named – until the late 1800’s, Americans began to organized burial grounds and marked the burial places of their dead with monuments.

Churches also began to designate a portion of their land as graveyards, where their members could be buried after they died. The use of headstones and monuments to mark graves became widespread during this century as well.

In the late 19th century, the modern cemetery was born. These were public burial spaces that were designed to be inviting so that families could – and would want to – come and spend time visiting their loved ones.

So, when you choose a cemetery or graveyard for your loved one’s burial, you have a better understanding of how these came to be and why they serve such a useful purpose for those who remain after a loved one dies.

For more information about burials and funerals in Chesterfield, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral is here to assist you.

Basics of Funeral Planning | Funeral Homes

Planning funerals at funeral homes in New Baltimore Michigan is often something that people face doing for the first time when their loved ones die. You may be having to plan a funeral for your loved one who has died, and you are not sure how to get started.

Here are some basics that will help you.

Before you go to the funeral home, check your loved one’s important papers to see if they preplanned their funeral with the funeral home or to see if they left written instructions that detailed the kind of funeral they wanted.

Doing this can save you a lot of time and legwork, because if your loved one has prearranged their funeral with the funeral home or they have left written funeral instructions, then most of the hard work of planning a funeral has already been done.

You will usually go to the funeral home with 24 hours of your loved one’s death. The funeral home will let you know when you should be there to meet with the funeral director to make the arrangements for your loved one’s funerals.

This meeting is a critical part of the funeral planning process, as everything pertaining to your loved one’s funeral will be addressed. Therefore, there are a few documents that you should bring with you, as well as some other items.

The documents you will need to bring are your loved one’s:

  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce decree (if applicable)

If your loved one was a military veteran and you want burial in a national or state cemetery and/or military funeral honors as part of their funeral, then you should bring their military discharge papers (Form DD-214), so the funeral director can make a copy of them.

The funeral director will work with the local Department of Veterans Affairs to coordinator all military-related funeral services.

You will also need to take the clothes that your loved one will be wearing when they are buried or cremated to the funeral home when you meet with the funeral director. You will not need to bring shoes, since they are not need for either a cremation or a burial. If you are having a viewing for your loved one, their feet will be covered by the casket lid.

At this meeting with the funeral director, you will also either bring an obituary you or your loved one has written, or you will provide the information you want included in your loved one’s obituary to the funeral director. If you want a picture of your loved one included in the obituary, you should also bring that with you.

The meeting with the funeral director will cover any service details for your loved one. The funeral director can give you guidance on the typical format of funeral services and memorial services. However, you are free to customize any part of the service to your specifications or to your loved one’s wishes.

One of the things you will decide about the service is who will participate in it. If your loved one specified people they wanted to be a part of the service, then you should notify them to make sure they are willing and available. If they did not, then you can choose and notify the people you have chosen.

If your loved one is being cremated, you will be able to choose the urn that you want their cremation remains placed in. If loved one is being buried, you can specify which cemetery they should be buried in. The funeral director will handle all the details.

For more information about funeral planning at funeral homes in New Baltimore Michigan our compassionate and experienced staff at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home can help.