After funerals at funeral homes in Cleveland, OH in the near future, it may be quite difficult to find a cemetery with a single cemetery plot for sale. Cemeteries in urban areas are simply running out of space. Many of them have removed sidewalks, acquired more land around the cemetery, and shortened the amount of space between plots to continue to accommodate burials. But the amount of available land is finite.
Even the largest urban cemeteries, like Arlington National Cemetery, are facing a land crunch. Arlington National Cemetery is projected to run out of cemetery plots by 2041.
Baby Boomers, the largest generation since World War II, are now aging and beginning to die. As Baby Boomers die, they will push the land shortage that urban cemeteries are facing to its absolute limit. Baby Boomers moved out of small towns and into urban areas at a level and pace not seen in any generation before them. Once they got to urban areas, Baby Boomers eventually established homes and families and continued to contribute to the population growth of these areas.
What is problematic about cemeteries running out of space in urban areas is that many people want to be buried near where they live or they want to be buried with family members. That may not be possible in the future, and some people may have to choose cemeteries that are further away from where they live or where nobody else they know is buried.
Although it’s estimated that there are about 10,000 cemeteries in the United States, there is no concrete data on whether they are all active cemeteries or whether they still have room for future burials. Very few new cemeteries have been built in the last decade anywhere, but especially in urban areas.
One reason is because land is so expensive, and there so little of it available, in urban areas that cemeteries simply can’t compete with commercial interests in acquiring more land. Another reason is the ubiquity of housing developments, where huge tracts of land are purchased by developers and houses are built and governed by a homeowners association. Neither the people who purchased the houses nor the homeowners associations want a cemetery, figuratively speaking, in their backyard. So part of the contractual agreement for the housing development includes what is allowed on the land – and around it – and what is not.
About 76 million Americans will turn 78 between 2024 and 2042. 78 years of age is the average life expectancy in the United States. If all of those people decide to be buried in a casket, 130 square miles would need to be added to American cemeteries.
However, there is a silver lining. Since cremated remains can be buried in a cemetery and they take up much less space than a casket, cremation opens the avenue for more burials in urban cemeteries. With more than 50% of Americans choosing cremation over traditional burial, with that percentage expected to rise to 80% by 2035, cemeteries are now creating spaces for urn burials. These urn gardens are landscaped and maintained just like the rest of the cemeteries where caskets are buried. This may be the answer to keep urban cemeteries active and room available for several more decades.
If you’d like to learn more about funeral planning at funeral homes in Cleveland, OH, our compassionate and experienced team at E. F. Boyd & Son Funeral Home is here to help. You can visit us at our funeral home at 2165 E 89th St., Cleveland, OH 44106, or you can call us today at (216) 791-0770.