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Funerals/stack coffins in the same plot


In the State of Iowa are you allowed to stack two coffins in the same plot?

Hi David,

This is an interesting question, primarily because you wonder specifically about IOWA -- and, while "double depth" graves are common in many cemeteries, I've never thought to learn whether or not there were any individual States that prohibited them.

You might think that's not such a big deal, but some States require we embalm in the case of reportable, infectious disease and other states prohibit embalming in the event of those same diseases, so just because some States allow double depth burials it doesn't necessarily follow that all States do (or that either one of them is evidence-based or right in their logic!)

That said, many cemeteries allow "double depth" graves. Here's a definition of one type:  (the lawn crypt).  Other cemeteries bury the first body deep enough that there's room for a second interment on top, and don't use a crypt.

With respect to Iowa, I don't see them prohibited in Statute. And look, here's a cemetery in Iowa that sells double-depth graves, so I guess that answers the question!

Isn't Google grand???

BTW - some other things to consider:

1) Rules that pertain to operations and have nothing to do with public or environmental health are generally CEMETERY POLICIES and not true "rules" created by a government. The requirement to have a vault or outer-burial-container is a cemetery policy, for example, and not a rule.

2) Usually you do not buy a PLOT of land. You buy an interment right, that is, the right to bury a person in a particular area of ground. In the case of a double depth grave, you purchase two interment rights, for two persons in the same space. If the cemetery requires outer burial containers, a lawn crypt is common.

In my cemeteries we currently don't offer two burial interment rights in the same space because putting two vaults on top of each other puts the second vault too close to the surface and interferes with the drainage, water absorption, and the health of the vegetation and the soil. (We do allow a second right of interment for cremated remains in the same space)

We also encourage natural burial now, and in a natural burial a body (in a biodegradable coffin or shroud) should be closer to the surface than vaulted burials so, in general, I'd say a double-depth grave wasn't the greatest idea in the world (just some two cents that you may not have thought about yet.)

Hope that helped!



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Cynthia Beal


Typical questions include 1) Where can I go for a natural burial? 2) What types of coffins, urns and other "packaging" are best for natural decomposition? 3)How do I plan for a natural funeral? 4) Do I have to be embalmed? and other questions in this vein. I'm available to answer general consumer questions about natural burial, home and natural funerals, and sustainable cemetery management. I answer questions about general cemetery matters, and offer suggestions about how to deal with remains, cremated or buried, interment rights, rules for cemeteries and plot owners, covering conventional as well as alternative options. I also answer questions from professionals, home funeral guides, and family members about how to manage a natural funeral either in the mortuary or at the home, how to best use natural coffins and urns, and how to convert cemeteries to natural, sustainable practices. I will answer questions from volunteer cemetery managers about how to offer natural burial in their rural, Pioneer, or non-profit cemeteries. If I don't know an answer I'll refer the questioner to someone who does. DISCLAIMER -- I am a certified pre-need sales person in the State of Oregon. I am not a licensed attorney, tax adviser, estate planner, funeral director, embalmer, accountant, public official, or any other professional that may be associated with issues the question brings up and any answers I provide should not be relied upon if such expertise is required by the asker (as per the All Expert suggestion). I provide my own personal opinions, based on my experience in business, Nature and its systems, and with human beings after 55 years of life on the planet.


Natural burial and sustainable cemetery management experience: I'm the founder of the Natural Burial Company and a member of the Sustainable Cemetery Management Group. Over 25 years in the natural products industry, and 9 years running the Natural Burial Company. I've done some consulting for existing and start-up natural cemetery operations. I'm currently an instructor at Oregon State University, facilitating the creation of a program in sustainable cemetery management and stimulating research in cemetery-oriented processes and functions.

ICCFA - International Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association Green Business Network Funeral Consumers Alliance

American Cemetery Magazine; Funeral Business Advisor; Real Goods Source Book; American Funeral Director Magazine, etc.

There is no degree in natural burials or funerals, and no accredited education provided for sustainable cemetery management. We're developing a program at Oregon State University but it hasn't fully launched yet.

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