March 1, 2024

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There are many reasons why someone might choose burial instead of another method of final disposition. They may be following the guidelines of their particular religion. They might want to be buried next to a loved one. Or it might simply just be their preferred choice.

But is there room for everyone to make that choice? With about 34.5 percent of people in the U.S. choosing burial over cremation, according to the National Funeral Directors Association, how much burial space is left?

Is Burial Space Becoming Scarce in the U.S.?  Not in the Catholic Cemeteries Association!

The answer isn’t all that easy. It relies on population density. When it comes to rural or suburban areas, there’s no cause for alarm when it comes to the question of whether there’s room for all those who want to be buried. Less populated areas of the United States have the space for new cemeteries. However, space is much more of an issue in big cities.

This burial crisis has been looming for quite some time, but unfortunately, there haven’t been many answers on how to solve it. Consider a study conducted by two urban planning professors over a decade ago. The study determined that because roughly 76 million Americans will reach the age of average life expectancy between 2024 and 2042, the U.S. would need about 130 square miles of grave space.

That number doesn’t include all the other parts of a cemetery, like trees or pathways. To put the 130 square miles into perspective, that’s about the size of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, there isn’t a general consensus on how much available grave space currently exists in the U.S.

Certain cemeteries have already determined there will not be enough space to continue allowing burials. Some cemeteries throughout the country have already stated that they can no longer accept new burials, while others have put a date on when they will run out of burial space. While being buried at Arlington National Cemetery is something many veterans strive for, the cemetery itself has stated that it will run out of burial plots by 2041.

While living in a larger city or looking to be buried in a well-known cemetery can put you at a disadvantage when looking for an available burial plot, many haven’t given up on finding more space. Back in 1993, one of Greater Boston’s most beloved and historic cemeteries, Mount Auburn, said that it would be full in just 10 years. Thanks to the hard work and creativity of its caretakers, that prediction never came to pass, and burials still occur there today.

Arlington itself is also focusing on finding more space with its groundbreaking Southern Expansion Project. With the project, Arlington predicts it can add on nearly 20 more years of burials than it could in its initial prediction.

The great news is that the Catholic Cemeteries Association of the Archdiocese of Hartford has had burial planning as a major focus for years.  We have the space necessary to take care of the burial needs of the Archdiocese for decades and decades to come. This does not guarantee that you will have a spot near your loved one if a proper pre planning protocol was not followed.  This is one of the main reasons to meet with a Family Service Advisor at the cemetery of your choice to pre plan you and your families burial needs.

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