It wasn’t until my parents died that I discovered that contemporary burial arrangements can be quite spendy. Burying a loved one is no longer as simple as lowering the casket into an earthen pit some 6 feet deep and then covering the casket with dirt. Many cemeteries now require some sort of burial vault which helps maintain the beauty of the cemetery grounds and protect the casket.
What is a burial vault and its purpose?
Burial vaults are a special receptacle made of concrete or metal that hold (or “receive”) the casket. Vaults are usually made of concrete or metal which can withstand the pressure of the dirt and earth that rests above it.
The primary function of the burial vault is to prevent cave-ins from happening as the casket slowly begins to disintegrate. This is what causes those depressions seen in old cemeteries and the reason why folklore dictates that one must never stand on a grave. Placing a casket in a vault prevents the ground above from sinking, and makes the job of caring for the grounds much easier.
In recent years, burial vaults now serve a second function; that of an underground burial chamber that will protect the casket and the remains of the deceased for hundreds of years. These hermetically sealed vaults are quite pricey, and are often covered with a veneer of bronze, or faux Granite or Marble shells.
Not all cemeteries require vaults, but for those that do, a vault is an added funeral expense that a family might not have anticipated. If cost is a problem, a family might consider selecting an inexpensive concrete vault or burying the deceased in a cemetery that doesn’t require a vault .
How much does a vault cost?
A basic concrete vault with lid costs on average $500 with the sealed vaults starting at $1000. Vaults made of stainless steel or bronze, or models covered in a veneer of fake marble or granite start at $2000 and can go much, much higher.
Like caskets, vaults are one of those items in which grief plays a significant role in the decision. Naturally we want the best for our Moms and Dads, and the idea of going with the “cheapest” goes against our principles. While the $5000 sealable bronze vault looks fantastic, the reality is that no one but the funeral staff will actually see the vault since it’s placed in the ground long before the graveside service.
What should guide your decision in choosing a vault is how affordable it is, and how necessary it will be for the remains to be preserved into the next millennium.