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Types of Graves: These Burial Options Are Available

In Germany, there are various approved types of burial sites. You have different options for ground and urn graves, and even forests or the high seas offer burial types that can individually fit a deceased person well.


What Factors Influence the Choice of a Burial Type?

The type of grave you choose depends on various factors. The most important one should be the last wish of the deceased. You should fundamentally honor their preference in the burial method.

The burial form is also crucial in the selection of a grave. For instance, with a ground burial, the requirement in Germany to use an official cemetery typically means the burial must be in a cemetery grave.

Other decisive factors may include:

Financial considerations: If you have a very tight budget, you should consider a more cost-effective option such as an urn burial.

Location: If you live far from the burial site or have health issues that make it difficult or impossible to maintain the grave, this should also influence your decision.

Traditions: Religious beliefs of the deceased or a family tradition—such as a family grave—play a role.


The 8 Most Common Types of Graves

For many people, a grave is a topic they don't really like to think about. As a result, most are unaware of the various burial options available. We would like to introduce you to the most common types of graves here.

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1. Choice Grave

A choice grave site is a freely selectable spot in the cemetery for a grave. Whether you prefer a spot near the chapel or the cemetery wall, or if you want a tree nearby, cemeteries offer designated areas from which you can freely choose.

In fact, many people choose their final resting place while still alive, ensuring that it matches their personal preferences in some way.


2. Single Grave

A single earth grave is a more cost-effective alternative to a choice grave. Unlike a choice grave, you cannot decide freely about the size and location of a single grave. These graves are assigned sequentially and are subject to strict time limits, which usually cannot be extended. A single grave is intended for only one deceased person.


3. Maintenance Grave

Maintenance graves, similar to single graves, are allocated by the cemetery. You have little choice regarding location and size. The cemetery gardener takes care of the maintenance of a maintenance grave, making it a good option for those who are unable to tend to the grave themselves.


4. Meadow Grave

A meadow burial is one of the most cost-effective burial forms. It is a natural grave where the deceased is buried in a designated meadow area among many others. For many, a burial in a green meadow is a beautiful, peaceful, and nature-close concept. However, it's important to note that these graves are anonymous, and there is no option to place a memorial plaque or grave decorations, as only grass is planted over the site.


5. Anonymous Grave

In an anonymous grave, there is no gravestone or grave plaque indicating who is buried there. Typically, anonymous burials are cremations, and the urn is interred without identification.

Often, these are communal areas - a meadow or a memorial forest - where multiple deceased are buried side by side. In a semi-anonymous burial, the names of the deceased are placed on a communal memorial plaque.


6. Mausoleum or Crypt

A mausoleum or crypt is usually a rather opulent burial structure. Many prominent or wealthy families have a family crypt where all family members are interred. It is often a type of burial house that can be entered, with an underground grave site inside.

While family graves have time restrictions – typically, the next deceased can be interred only 10 years after a previous burial – there are no such restrictions for crypts or mausoleums.

Larger mausoleums even include their own memorial site.


7. Urn Grave

There are several options for urn graves. Besides an earth urn grave, where the urn is buried in the ground and maintained like a regular grave, a columbarium is a common type of urn burial. A columbarium is a wall grave – a wall with sections where one or multiple urns are placed and can be outfitted with a memorial plaque and decorations.

Tree or sea burials are also options for urns in some countries. In Switzerland, there is also the possibility of an air or rock burial. In these instances, the ashes are scattered from a great height or on an alpine rock.


8. Other Types of Graves

There are some other, somewhat unusual types of graves that we would like to briefly introduce.

Sliding Grave: This is a niche in a wall where the body, either alone or in a coffin, is slid into. They are quite rare and not found in some countries.

American Grave: The American grave consists solely of a grave plaque with an inscription on a bed of gravel. It is completely maintenance-free and is common in the USA.

Deep Grave: In a deep grave, two deceased individuals can be buried one on top of the other. It requires less land than a family grave but must be dug significantly deeper. Deep graves are not available in all cemeteries.

Rock Grave: A rock grave is an artificially created cave that allows the deceased to be buried within a rock wall. Jesus is said to have been buried in one. Today, this type of grave is no longer in common use.



A grave is not just a grave. There are many factors to consider when choosing a burial site. It's practical and important to address this topic thoroughly and in a timely manner to avoid being overwhelmed during a time of deep mourning in the family.

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