What you should know about grave settling

Maintaining graves is a very important task for our staff.  Some common questions we hear involve how long it takes for a grave to settle, what the process entails, and when grass will be planted. Keep reading to learn more.

CCC FALL 2 Katie

What is grave settling?  Grave settling is the process of the earth (soil, clay, etc.) surrounding the burial readjusting.

How long does is take a grave to settle?  The duration of time it takes for a grave to settle varies greatly on the season, type of burial, and other external factors. However, on average its takes about a year for a grave to fully settle.

 What is the process of leveling a grave?  Directly after the burial, the vault is surrounded by filler. While many cemeteries use only soil, we use fill sand to the top of the vault and then soil from the vault to the top of the grave.  Sand is much more durable against water and therefore speeds and assists in the settling process.  As the grave settles throughout the year, additional soil is added.

 When will grass be planted?  Grass will be planted on a grave before the grave has settled completely.  Typically, the first seed application will occur within a few months of the burial, depending on the season.  As the grave continues to settle throughout the year, more soil and seed are applied until the grave is level and the grass has grown in fully.  Please keep in mind that grass seed cannot be planted during summer and winter months as the seeds will not germinate.  We understand that leveling and seeding can cause distress to a family and we ask for your patience during the process.

 When can a memorial or monument be placed?  This answer varies depending on the individual situation.  Many memorials can be set soon after the burial, weather permitting.  The type of memorial (flush or above ground) will also affect how quickly it can be placed on a grave. It is also important to consider the production time of the memorial and if a poured cement foundation is required. Generally, memorials are not able to be set during late fall through early spring.

Edited by Joe Marques


The Hole

The days are getting shorter, the air is a bit cooler and the smells of fall are everywhere. The stores are filled with Halloween decorations and costumes. Our daily activities dominate our lives and distract us from so many other things happening around us. Many of us will look back on this past summer and remember a great vacation and other grand adventures but for some this summer will carry a different set of memories. Some are dealing with the recent loss of someone they love; a hole created by death that can never be filled.

News of the death of someone we love has different levels of emotional trauma. When it is a child, regardless of the age of the child, the trauma a parent experiences is beyond anything we can measure. The devastation is overpowering and causes such indescribable numbness that some are unable to see how they can survive to the next day. The news of a grandparent is also traumatic but when the deceased had recently celebrated their 100th birthday, everyone expected that one day soon the call would come. We are both traumatized by the loss and grateful for the time we were given. In either situation, those who have faith know that this separation is temporary and it is in our Catholic Cemeteries where the hope of our reunion comes alive.

Fall is the time when we celebrate Cemetery Sunday which is in conjunction with All Souls Day. We celebrate the mass to remember the deceased and pray for them. It is the time that we are reminded of the promise Jesus made to us in those days leading up to His ultimate sacrifice. While there are many sacred places, it is only in a Catholic cemetery where our Catholic faith is fully acknowledged.

Our faith gives us hope and in our Catholic cemeteries we find a truly sacred place to remember the person whose loss has left a hole in our life. It is in our Catholic cemetery where we find that the hole is a bit less painful, because we come to believe in the promise of paradise.

Each of us might reflect on where we would have stood on that very first Good Friday. What would we have done if we had been part of that crowd watching as a man wearing a crown of thorns and a makeshift royal cloak was presented to us for sentencing? Today we know what He did for us without hesitation but where would we have been then?

Today we can reflect on the promise He made and have hope that with our final breath He will be waiting for us along with all those who we loved while traveling along a faith filled path toward paradise. I see in our Catholic cemeteries only hope that our faith will be fulfilled on the last day when the promise made will finally be kept.

When we kneel at the grave of our loved one, their death causes us to grieve but it is the promise that gives us comfort in the knowledge that this separation is only temporary.

Myths & Realities: All Cemeteries Provide Prayers for the Deceased

Another popular myth often heard is “all cemeteries provide prayers for the deceased buried there.”

The reality is secular cemeteries may permit individual religious services at the time of burial.

However, a unique feature of Catholic cemeteries is that, in addition to the graveside service at burial, Mass is offered regularly for those buried in our Catholic cemeteries. Mass is also celebrated at most Catholic cemeteries on Memorial Day, Cemetery Sunday (the first Sunday in November) in conjunction with the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, and for other special occasions throughout the year. The Bishops and some of the priests closely associated with the Catholic Cemeteries Association are the celebrants of these special Masses.

In addition to the Masses offered regularly at our cemeteries, the Rosary is prayed several times each month at our cemeteries. This beautiful and traditional prayer is truly an uplifting experience that offers peace and healing to those who are grieving. Finally, our cemeteries offer monthly prayer services where prayer and reflection continue the healing process.

For more information visit www.clevelandcatholiccemeteries.org.

Places of Remembrance

As I walk our cemeteries, I often take a few moments to read the names of those entrusted to our care and it is a privilege to speak their names and wonder about their lives. I am overwhelmed by the flowers and wreaths placed as an expression of unbroken love.  I am reminded how short our lives are and I recognize that in a short span of time the only evidence of a person’s existence is the record of burial and a name inscribed on a stone.

The memorial on a grave becomes the final record of a life lived and it becomes the place where descendants will gather to reconnect with an ancestor long since passed. It is incredible to witness the reconnection that occurs when a descendant happens upon an ancestor’s place of rest and touches the name and remembers what was told about a life intertwined with the one standing in remembrance. I have often joined family members seeking to reconnect and have been honored to experience the emotions that such reconnection brings.

As I experience the changes in our society regarding burial traditions, I wonder where the next generation will go to reconnect. When a loved one’s ashes are scattered to the wind, where do you go to place a flower, to remember? What is the motivation of those who glamourize the scattering of a person’s remains? Why do they seek the obliteration of Catholic teachings with regard to the proper disposition of all human remains? As cremation was once used to undermine the teachings of the Church regarding the resurrection of the body, is scattering now a reconstituted effort to accomplish that goal? Is it an attempt to undermine Christian beliefs and teachings? Why do certain members of our society seek to bring about the end of the burial traditions that have for millennia been a part of Christian life? When you experience a Catholic funeral and understand its’ significance how could anyone be convinced that the Right of Christian Burial is unnecessary or irrelevant? The sacredness and beauty of the ritual and the honor that it bestows on the deceased should never be cast aside as an inconvenience!

Some have made a concerted effort to convince us that placing our loved ones in a cemetery is a waste of land and a waste of money. I wonder if the woman I recently met washing her husband’s memorial would agree, or the elderly couple placing flowers on a child’s grave with an inscription expressing a love that is decades old. How often do we consider that we may need that place where a flower can be laid, where our connection to the physical is unbroken? We measure everything based on some valuation and never consider that our relationship with the deceased and the celebration of their life cannot be quantified. Once again we find our faith challenged and our beliefs being undermined by changes in our society.

When the need arises, where do we go to renew our relationship? Where do we go to connect to the physical and reflect on our memories of the deceased? Where do we go if we just want some time to reflect?

~Andrej Lah, President

Catholic Cemeteries Association

Welcome to Cleveland Catholic Cemeteries

Burial in a Catholic Cemetery is a witness to one’s belief in the resurrection and life everlasting.

Catholic cemeteries are an extension of the parish community where those who worshipped together in life now rest together in peace.

Catholic cemeteries are dedicated to the Corporal Work of Mercy “To bury the dead” and the Spiritual Works of Mercy “To comfort the sorrowful” and “To pray for the living and the dead.”