Votive Lamps in Cemeteries

Digital Cemetery
4 years, 5 months ago

Hi all,
I’m from Italy and I’ve a question: in our cemeteries we have the tradition to turn on little lights on our burial plots, called “votive lamps”.
This is a service supplied by the entity in charge of the management of the cemetery, that could be the city or a private company and the customers pay an annual fee for it (sometime not so cheap)

As far as I know I don’t see anything similar in the American cemeteries, is it right ?

Bye
Stefano
http://www.digitalcemetery.info

Jenny Mertes
4 years, 5 months ago

Stefano, thank you for asking! While we are still researching, the preliminary answer is that it isn’t the custom in American cemeteries. In fact, many American cemeteries prohibit non-floral decorations in order to maintain the dignity and appearance of the cemetery and to make cleanup easier.

Jenny Mertes
4 years, 5 months ago

Also, Stefano, there are for-profit cemeteries in the U.S. that will provide them, but again, it isn’t commonly or customarily done here. “Eternal lights” can be purchased privately of course, and left at a grave site where permitted. Some are made of solar powered cells and others give their light of memories from the more traditional candles.

Digital Cemetery
4 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for your kindly answer.
In the past as developer of a software to manage the cemetery activities I did some “Inventory” job in many cemeteries, job requested by my customers to check the information between the data written in the contracts and the real situation in the sectors/blocks and so on.
As I can see the tipical structure of an American cemetery is simpler than the Italian (and I think European) one, first of all because you have more space to dedicate to this purpose.
Here is quite common to build multi level cemeteries (for example with an undergroud floor), expecially for the columbarium and/or ossuary burial.

Thank you
Stefano

Jenny Mertes
4 years, 5 months ago

You’re welcome, Stefano. We have a question for you: Is theft of items such as votive lamps a problem in cemeteries where you live? It seems that in the U.S., items left at grave sites have been stolen more frequently in recent years.

Digital Cemetery
4 years, 5 months ago

No, also because the lamp is attached to the main electrical line and its value is very low (to make you understand, 5/6 USD).
The using of the cemetery power is the reason to pay the annual fee: when you sign the contract for one or more votive lamps the owner of the cemetery prepares the power cable (if not present) and attaches the lamp(s).
Recently I started to see votive lamps based on led, for a less power consumed.
However also here sometimes some objects are stolen from the graves site, for example flowerpots, but it isn’t a real big problem.

Stefano
http://www.digitalcemetery.info

Jenny Mertes
4 years, 5 months ago

That is a great explanation, Stefano – thank you. You’re right about many cemeteries in the U.S. having more space.

Digital Cemetery
4 years, 5 months ago

Good morning Jenny,
I’ve another question: in Italy, and I think also in the rest of Europe, the contract for the burial plot in the ground has a limited duration with an expiration date, for example 10, 20 or 50 years (in the past in some municipal cemeteries it was possible also a perpetual duration).
The purchaser pays a fee (sometimes with istallments for many years) depending by the position and the size.
After this period the content of the plot is emptied with the exhumation and moved in a different place (ossuary).
This relocation doesn’t happen for different kind of burial plots, like the family graves with little buildings.
I’d like to know if in the USA there is a similar management of the contracts and their duration.

Thank you
Stefano

http://www.digitalcemetery.info

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by  sandboxdev.
Jennifer Lane
4 years, 5 months ago

Hi Stefano,

I am responding to your last question on Jenny’s behalf. In the US, once a grave space is sold (or more technically, the “right of interment” as the person never owns the dirt) that is permanent as long as all required fees have been paid. If a person is buried in a space, that is also permanent.

For example, if the purchase of the space is done preneed, a person can usually pay this over terms up to 60 months. If death occurs prior to the space being paid in full, the cemetery would require payment of the balance prior to opening the grave.

If the same person bought 4 spaces (known as an “owner”) but only used 1 over time, the remaining 3 spaces would still remain owned by the owner, or their heirs if the person is deceased. At any time after the space is paid in full, the owner can sell their spaces to another party if they wish. Sometimes, unwanted spaces can be sold back to the cemetery if the cemetery is running low on space inventory.

It is very unusual here for anyone to ever be exhumed because a length of time has past. (Rare cases have occurred where very old cemeteries – no burials for 100+ years – have been discovered in areas where a city may want to do development. It is quite a lengthy process for a city to get approval to exhume old grave sites for development purposes, so it doesn’t happen very often at all.

Of course, this leads to a common problem in well established cemeteries here. They get “land-locked”, where they have no more capacity for interments. At this point, a land-locked cemetery would become one that is maintained only, by the perpetual care funds collected over the years.

Digital Cemetery
4 years, 5 months ago

Thank you Jennifer for the clear answer

Stefano

http://www.digitalcemetery.info

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