A lot of cemeteries offer perpetual care (sometimes known as endowed or permanent care) – in fact, some state regulations require it. However, the idea of perpetual care is often misunderstood and it’s important to know what is and is not covered when you purchase your lot. Or niche. Or crypt. Or mausoleum. There’ll be something to suit your needs no matter what you’re interested in!
Simply put, perpetual care funds are used for general maintenance and repair of cemetery grounds. For example, mowing and lawn care during the growing season would fall under perpetual care, as would upkeep of roads, paths and signage. Some cemeteries may use funds to repair fallen headstones or raise sunken grave markers but this is not common practice. The family is responsible for the headstone and for keeping the gravesite clean and neat. The family is also responsible for brightening up the lot (or niche, crypt, and mausoleum) with fresh/artificial flowers every so often. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see your decorations on the next visit though, since cemetery management has the right to remove said decorations if they are an impediment to their maintenance routine or don’t add to the overall attractiveness of the grounds (you know who you are…).
When I describe my services, a lot of people tell me that they have perpetual care and I always explain that perpetual care isn’t what they think it is. Maybe a picture can help illustrate this point. We cleaned the gravesite of a client’s loved one last summer a few days after the weekly mowing. This is what the grave marker looked like before:
So the cemetery staff definitely mowed the grounds. Then the wind promptly blew the grass clippings all over the grave marker. After we applied some TLC though, the grave marker looked like this:
See what a difference some good old-fashioned cleaning can do? So while I agree most perpetual care cemeteries are beautifully maintained, I tell my customers that if they look closely, they’ll get a different view. I suppose some care is better than none. I just think a gravetender’s care is better than most.