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Everything You Need to Know About a Mausoleum  

Navigating the various processes involved in planning a funeral can quickly become overwhelming. In order to fully understand your options and make the most appropriate decision on behalf of your loved one, it can be helpful to learn more about the different funeral arrangements available to you. Using a mausoleum is one such arrangement that facilitates the entombment of the recently deceased in an above-ground crypt. These structures have an ancient history that informs how they are put to use today. 

Though you may have already heard of, or possibly entered a mausoleum, you might not have a deep understanding of their significance, functionality, and atmosphere. Being thoroughly informed about arrangement options prior to the time of decision making will help you be confident that you are honoring your beloved’s life in the most respectful manner. This article will delve into a broader discussion about what to expect when planning a funeral in a mausoleum, its cost, advantages, drawbacks, and similarly valuable information. 

Mausoleums’ History and Significance   

Mausoleums date back to 350 BC and are typically large, stone structures that house tombs above ground. The crypts found in mausolea can contain traditional caskets as well as cremated remains of the deceased. As referenced above, the term “mausoleum” has a lengthy past. It was first used after the passing of King Mausolus, the ruler of an Asian kingdom on the Mediterranean Sea. His distraught wife famously entombed his body in a temple-like building which sat regally above the surrounding land. Thus, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was created. Later named one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this impressive structure can be found in modern-day Turkey. 

Due to their venerable history, mausolea have often been dedicated to honorable leaders or royalty like King Mausolus himself. Even to this day, these structures can still carry a connotation of importance or respectability, though of course there are no restrictions on who can be put to rest in a mausoleum and who cannot. It’s worth noting that not all mausolea are grand structures on hills that overlook ancient civilizations — a mausoleum’s size can vary significantly. Often depending on the number of bodies they are meant to entomb, mausolea can range from relatively small, dedicated structures to immense, impressive temples like the Taj Mahal in India. With this variation in mind, let’s discuss what to expect when entering a mausoleum and how they function. 

What to Expect at a Mausoleum

While the exterior appearance of mausolea may vary significantly depending on who built it, who is laid to rest inside and other cultural factors, their general atmosphere and purpose remain constant. As is the case in any cemetery or graveyard, a mausoleum is a peaceful place designed to honor those who lay to rest inside. Its serene atmosphere allows visitors to pay their respects to loved ones who are entombed. These solemn spaces may be softly lit or even feature soft background music. As would be expected, this ambiance is conducive to dedicated reflection and contemplation. 

At the center of the mausoleum is a crypt that holds the remains of the deceased. Alternative configurations could include vertical or horizontal tombs in a row. Either way, the central crypt or collection of tombs is the heart of a mausoleum and consequently represents the most sacred space. Aside from the visual characteristics of a mausoleum, many people wonder if the buildings have any particular smell. For multiple reasons, the answer is (or should be) no. First, inner doors of crypts are permanently sealed with glue or caulk and do not allow any odor to escape the crypt. Secondly, caskets are often placed into liners or bags that absorb or collect any decay that might smell. Drains and air vents found on the back wall of the crypt make it so that visitors do not experience any unpleasant sensations related to their contents. Overall, visiting a mausoleum is a tranquil experience that allows for the respectful remembrance of your loved one. 

The Advantages of Mausolea 

The use of mausolea comes with numerous benefits, particularly when compared to more traditional cemetery funeral options. The most obvious of these advantages is that mausolea are an appropriate option for those who do not wish to be buried underground. Moreover, choosing to be entombed in a mausoleum reduces the amount of land that is dedicated to cemetery or graveyard use. For this reason, environmentally-conscious individuals may favor mausolea. 

The physical conditions inside a mausoleum can also be preferable to an outdoor gravesite during inclement weather or harsher seasons. Public mausolea tend to provide benches, adequate lighting, and even soft music that are conducive to a peaceful atmosphere. These structures practically dispense of the need to cooperate with problematic weather conditions that can cause excessively hard ground and result in funeral delays. Lastly, more rural areas may experience shortages of the necessary equipment to perform a traditional burial, which could also result in delays. Overall, mausolea are recognized as a cleaner and dryer option when compared to cemetery and graveyard burial. 

Potential Downsides of Mausolea 

Objectively, the advantages of entombment in a mausoleum are greater than the potential downsides of using these services. However, this is not to say that the disadvantages should be ignored. On the contrary, it is important to know that while it is very rare, caskets within mausolea have been known to burst due to improper management of gases and fluids within. Director of Funeral Consumers Alliance Josh Scolum explains that under these circumstances, “the casket becomes a pressure cooker.” As previously discussed, if you are working with a public mausoleum, it is their responsibility to ensure that the necessary procedures are followed to avoid this type of scenario. Measures mausolea should take include appropriate air filtration and drainage systems. 

Private mausolea, on the other hand, are more susceptible to inclement weather and water damage than their public counterparts. If unmonitored, these factors could result in significant impairment of the casket or the mausoleum’s exterior structure. 

Comparative Cost of a Mausoleum 

When it comes to cost, laying a loved one to rest in a mausoleum is relatively similar to traditional burial in a cemetery or graveyard. This comparability is because most of the same expenses apply in both scenarios. For example, it’s necessary to account for the: 

  • Crypt cost
  • Casket cost
  • Crypt opening and closing costs 
  • Outer burial container cost
  • Endowment care and additional fees

The average cost of entombment in a mausoleum is $4,000, with the lowest costs at around $2,000 and ranging up to $10,000. In efforts to make mausoleum entombment as cost-effective as possible, families can choose to invest in multiple crypts in a public mausoleum or enough space in a private structure to potentially reduce total costs. In either case, choosing a mausoleum will likely be about as costly as other more “traditional” means of burial. 

Though laying a loved one to rest is never easy, our caring staff at Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery in Mesa, AZ is here to guide you. We can reply to any questions or concerns you might have — simply call (480) 832-2850 or fill out our contact form to indicate the services you are seeking and how we can ease your burden during this time. 

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