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How are caskets placed in a mausoleum?


Active member
My wife Dorothy asked me this question, before she passed away. She wanted a great burial so I explained it the best I could to her.

How are caskets placed in a mausoleum?

Most mausolea are associated with cemeteries, though that is not, necessarily, a hard and fast rule. A mausoleum, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a structure or building built for the purpose of housing caskets in niches called “crypts.” These crypts can be stacked very high on top of one another. I have seen them 15 to 20 high. There are also personal, family mausolea, often referred to as “estate crypts” or “estate mausolea.” They are stand-alone structures which are purchased by a single family to house the caskets of family members only. They can be modest or almost palatial in their opulence. Many a wealthy clan has used family mausolea as symbols of their wealth in life so, yes, you CAN take it with you!

The public crypts, in cemeteries, have face plates on them which usually show the names of the deceased, as well as their dates of birth and death. There are often small, personalized aspects included, such as religious emblems, or in the case of side-by-side or double-deep crypts, entwined wedding rings or hearts, etc.

When the “occupant” dies, the cemetery will remove the faceplate, which is held in place by specialized screws, and the cemetery personnel will often take that time to place the date of death on the plate. The cemetery committal (a religious or non-religious ceremony of final goodbyes) is usually held in a chapel, if available (as there is no grave for a graveside ceremony).

Once the committal has completed, the cemetery personnel and the funeral director will take the casket to the crypt. The crypt can be interior, perhaps inside the chapel, or exterior (on the outside walls of the mausoleum). Cost of the crypt is reflected not only by its interior/exterior location (interior is always more expensive), but its position with regard to eye level (those at eye level are considerably more expensive, while those well above or below eye level are less expensive).

You'll often see the opened crypt with a velvet blanket hanging over the opening. This dissuades onlookers from seeing too far into the crypt space. The casket is then prepared by being placed in a fiberboard tray, and covered in a type of form-fitting outer cover that is secured via either tape or an adhesive. This covering has a small valve which helps to vent any excess gases from the casket to keep any pressures interior to the casket equalized with the outside pressure.

The casket is then lifted to the lip of the crypt and pushed in. Since the crypts are usually made of concrete, the casket's entry is often made easier by scattering small pellets, ball bearings or dowels which lower the friction. In the case of double-deep crypt spaces, a long, padded pole is often employed by the cemetery workers to push the first occupant back along the narrow opening, leaving room for the next occupant when his or her time comes. Sometimes the cemetery worker is required to physically crawl into the crypt space and push the casket back. In the case of very high crypt spaces, a manned scissors lift is required to raise the casket to the proper height to push it in the opening.

The faceplate is then replaced. If the final occupant has just been entombed (when a person is placed in a crypt space- vs. interment in a grave), an adhesive is added to the faceplate so it cannot easily be removed even if unscrewed.

There can be crypts for cremated remains, as well. They are, of course, much smaller than the crypts used for caskets. These crypt spaces can have faceplates, like casket crypt spaces, or, if the urn has the name of the deceased on it, the facing may be made of heavy glass or plexiglas, which showcases the beauty of the urn. A structure where cremated remains are placed in crypt spaces is referred to as a “columbarium.”