Columbarium or mausoleum: Above ground resting places

One of the main points I try to emphasize when I talk with families about end-of-life issues is that there are many options available. It’s not just “A or B,” “this or that,” because both cremation and traditional burial can lead to multiple branches and limbs on a tree full of choices including a columbarium or mausoleum.

Here’s a scenario I hear from time to time: “I don’t want a traditional burial because I don’t like the idea of my body being underground, however I still want to be placed in a fixed spot where family and friends can go to remember you.” Someone in that situation should probably consider a columbarium or mausoleum.

A columbarium is a building or other structure where burial urns are kept in separate niches. They can be private, but usually, the outer plaques or markers are available for public viewing. The term columbarium comes from “columba,” the Latin word for dove. It originally meant a structure containing numerous niches – small, hollowed out sections – to house doves or pigeons. Apparently, the ancient Romans thought the niches for urns looked enough like the bird apartments, they didn’t see the need to create a new word.

As you may know, a very famous columbarium is right here in California. The San Francisco Columbarium is just north of Golden Gate Park. The beautiful, copper-domed example of Neo-Classical architecture was built in 1898. It is non-denominational and has space available.

Similarly, a mausoleum contains remains in an above-ground structure, but a mausoleum typically involves full-body interments. Caskets are placed in crypts within the mausoleum. Depending on the design of the building, crypt markers may be on exterior walls or seen from the inside of the building. Mausolea (plural) can be found in many cemeteries and in a variety of sizes, ranging from one crypt to a small number of crypts (such as for a family) or even many crypts under the same roof.

If you want to know more about a permanent above-ground option, I encourage you to contact us at Best Cremation Care. We’re always happy to offer advice and answer your questions.

Best Cremation Care provides affordable cremation services throughout the Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland / Alameda, and San Jose / Santa Clara) and Southern California (Los Angeles, Long Beach, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and San Diego County). We are a licensed funeral establishment and have an A+rating from the Better Business Bureau.

David Finch

About David Finch

David Finch is a Licensed Funeral Director, Embalmer, Crematory Manager and Funeral Insurance Consultant in the State of California with over 27 years experience. Other professional accomplishments include Founding the Professional Fellowship of Hospice Chaplains, managing a public cemetery, volunteering as a Sheriff's Chaplain, Board Member of the Orange Belt Funeral Director's Association, consulting with the State of California as Subject Matter Expert for the Department of Consumer Affairs Licensing Exam, and has the privilege of overseeing the tutelage of many great apprentice embalmers. David has overseen the Southern California operations of Best Cremation Care since January of 2015 and has enjoyed seeing the company grow and client families receive compassion and a great value during what can be a difficult time in their lives.

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