Let’s get down to earth—in cemeteries

By Linda S. Hamilton | Contributor

If you already have arrangements made for yourself and your loved ones for cremation or burial after death, good. Read no further, unless you’re interested (as I hope you are) in learning more about a little-discussed but very important topic: cemeteries.

Unless you choose to have your ashes scattered to the wind or water, the final resting place for your body (or ashes) will most likely be a cemetery. Today such “graveyards” include both traditional in-ground burials and above-ground niches for ashes and bodies. A cemetery is intended to be a peaceful area dedicated to respectfully protecting the earthly remains of people who lived and died before us, now resting there.

In Vermont, private cemeteries are not uncommon. On private property, these are legally designated and protected through time, either maintained by the property owner and limited to that family’s members or owned and managed by a legal cemetery association and open to the public. Of course, there are many church-affiliated cemeteries. And in this area we have a long tradition of cemeteries owned and maintained by communities through their local government.

In Charlotte we have all of the above types of cemeteries. So you would think we are well positioned to care for our dead. Unfortunately, not so. The reality is that, unless you have already purchased your plot, there may well not be room for you in any of Charlotte’s church-affiliated or public cemeteries. They are, in fact, near carrying capacity.

Yikes! What’s a body to do…if you have put down roots in this community and want to “stay put” here? Clearly it’s time for Charlotte residents to think about this and openly discuss their needs and desires. We need to look into support and feasibility of a new public cemetery. At the March 14 Selectboard meeting, Cemetery Commissioner Stephen Brooks will propose that a small working group be formed to begin this process and report its findings to the Selectboard. If you would like to be part of this working group, or support the exploration in other ways, please contact Stephen Brooks at scb@briarburling.com or 373-3947.

Let’s dig into this…

Lay me down in Charlotte 

 ~ Town Cemeteries 

West Burying Ground (aka Barber Cemetery on Greenbush Road); East Burying Ground (aka Bradley Cemetery on Spear Street)

~ Private Association Cemeteries

Morningside (off Spear Street on Morningside Drive); Grandview (on Church Hill Road
behind Congregational Church)

~ Church-Affiliated Cemetery

Mount Carmel (on Spear Street behind Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church)

~ Private Cemeteries under the care of Charlotte Cemetery Commission

~ Several small private/family burial sites in various locations