Best read of the day; ‘Digging Deep’ – and a statement on my religion, for the record

I came across the best read of the day while researching cemetery law in Vermont.  Don’t worry, I’m feeling very fit. The first official state web page you come to [here] is a short page that would answer almost every question you might have on burial and cemetery law. It also has a link to “Digging deep”.   This is a document published by the Vermont Secretary of State’s office. Yes, it is really called “digging deep” and it is very well written (the headstone cartoons keep the topic lively)

burials headstones‘The epitaphs contained within this publication actually appear on headstones somewhere in the world!’

A couple of chapter headings; section 1 titled ‘I. Burial Law — Of Grave Concern’, and section 2 is ‘II. Cemetery Law — Tales from the Crypt‘.

It seems that the Vermont laws on burial evolved as good law should. It is minimally prescriptive or limiting and really only speaks to issues that have or might actually arise. Sure, you can bury family members on your own property. OK, there might be a bit of bureaucracy; “A. Bodies may not be buried without proper paperwork” but even this is reasonable with affordable fines.

Makes me proud to be a Vermonter.


For the record, I thought I’d better spell out my religious practices so that the state can’t force me to violate them.

My religious practices are:

  1. I may not be compelled to divulge the nature, name or origin of my faith. It is personal, it is my business
  2. You should not be buried in a crypt or mausoleum [if possible]
  3. You should not be embalmed [unless you die of a communicable disease that might migrate from your remains]. This requires that, in warm weather, you should be buried fairly quickly – within a day or two
  4. You can not be forced to deliver death on behalf of a political institution/country/ or religion. You may sign up for military service but may not be drafted
  5. Be kind
  6. Use science [when possible]
  7. If you have to choose between being nice or being smart, choose the former
  8. Any member of this faith may perform a marriage of any couple who agree to love and care for one-an-other
  9.  . . . . there are more principles and practices but I don’t have to reveal them just yet

Cemetery Burials

  • Digging Deep – a guide to cemetery and burial law from the Office of the Vermont Secretary of State.

Burial involves several options. A person can be buried in a casket, which can range from an unfinished wood box to an elaborate metal casket. The remains from a cremation can also be buried. Burial can be in the earth, in a mausoleum (a building above ground), or in a columbarium (a structure for cremated remains, that can stand alone or be part of a mausoleum). Costs can include:

  • cemetery plot, or space in a mausoleum or columbarium.
  • grave liner (if required by the cemetery).
  • graveside services (if desired).
  • opening and closing the grave, crypt, or niche. {I want a niche-wanted one all my life-doesn’t everyone?}
  • grave marker.
  • perpetual care of the site.

A direct burial is when the deceased is buried shortly after death. Direct burial is less costly because there is no viewing at a funeral home and embalming may not be necessary. You can still hold a memorial service (without a viewing) at your home or in a religious building, funeral home, cemetery, or other location. {Yep, this is for me, whenever you get around to it, no hurry; I’M DEAD but, I want a lot of sobbing :ah, we’ll miss him-“these are good crab cakes” sort of thing, maybe a bonfire. “No one, but no one loved being alive more than Van”, to live and love, that is great stuff.} Oh yes, a stone should be laid that is flush to the ground such that a mower doesn’t have to raise the blade. Thanks mower.

Questions to ask when choosing a cemetery site

  • Are there faith-based limitations on who may be laid to rest in a specific section of the cemetery? (There are religious cemeteries and some non-sectarian cemeteries set aside a specific section for a faith.)
  • Are there restrictions on the type of monument or memorials permitted?
  • Will the cemetery require a grave liner?
  • Can flowers and remembrances be placed at the grave, mausoleum, or columbarium?
  • Do the fees include perpetual care of the site or is that a separate expense?

If you plan to bury a body in a town or religious cemetery, the cemetery may require a vault.

However, Vermont law says no cemetery can create a regulation that interferes with your religious burial practices [Title 18, 5378] so you may refuse a vault on those grounds.

It is reasonable, though, for the cemetery to charge you additional fees for the maintenance of a grave that may need to be tamped down over time if no vault is used. Or, you may need the services of a funeral director to order a vault.

Dead sea scrolls; what on the web will survive for heirs, for history?

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It just dawned on me that this is how my great-grandchildren will know me. Maybe.  Not by an inanimate photo in a tin-type but as a guy who once pounded on an iron bar to make a hook. If I post even a drib of a movie to the FaceBook does it last 50 years, a hundred. I’m keeping a 40 pound 1960’s recording device in the garage so I can ‘hear’ my father’s voice. I feel simultaneously a little immortal and a little like a reflection. Will our heirs keep an old laptop around; perchance to reach back and see their progenitor?  I’m not sure why I have that interest, why would they? Does who my father was really influence who I am, who they’ll be? It seems to just be a very human interest. I see some traits of my father visited on my children; or just reflections of some traits. “You look a lot like Bert” my aunts [Corrine and Ima] said this before inviting Lisa and me into their house at the end of a long dark road in the middle of Crawford County in 1983. There is something in Humans that reaches across time. What do I want to say to my little buddies born long after I’m gone? What cogent advice do I have for my great grandchildren as they advance in age? Will they spin rings in a parabolic dish to ‘hear’ lessons from the past or see movie bits posted by their ancestors? Just wondering.