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Six Feet Under Ain't Cutting It Anymore

By Shannon in News on Jun 20, 2007 8:00PM

Where Chicagoist used to live, we were within walking distance to three (or more, depending on boundary definitions) cemeteries. Not one to be easily creeped out by the prospect, their proximity actually sweetened the pot for us. We’re no Fox Mulder, but we are of the ilk that likes the occasional cemetery walk: peace and quiet, nice funerary art, and a different angle on local history. Some of the places we know are full up and not accepting any new arrivals. However, others have plenty of exploitable space … perhaps too much.

mausoleumAll over the country, cemetery plots bought long ago are going unwanted. As evidenced by trends in Chicago, cremation and transplantation are contributing to an apathetic attitude towards the old-fashioned notion of a family plot. Say you inherit a number of eternal resting places from your mother. Maybe you’re planning on being cremated instead and put up in a columbarium. Maybe you’ve moved to Delaware and like it so much you’d rather be buried in your new digs. Or maybe your spouse would rather be buried with his or her family than yours. (There’s a conversation we would dread on so many levels.) No matter the case, chances are you’d end up like Jacqueline Heins Miles, who has seven plots in Oak Woods Cemetery she’s been trying to pawn off for three years. Three years! A long time, yet Donald Flack of Des Plaines has tried to sell his extra land for the same amount of time. Apparently we’ve gotten so far away from the traditional method of planning ahead that nobody takes the bait, even at 30-40% price reductions.

In the olden days, people put up fliers or bulletins advertising their extra plots. Today, nothing suffices like the Internet, where sites like and work as brokers for the gravesite market. Still, the majority of inquiries facing sellers like Miles and Flack come from scammers. Take away the scammers, who we’re sure go after people trying to sell anything, and you’ve got … nothing. We briefly played devil’s advocate with ourselves and considered the purchase of one of these plots. What turned us off was the idea of spending eternity in a grave meant for another person, which just seems plain wrong; and the fact that we’re pretty gung ho on green burials. (For all our love of cemeteries, we see them as rather quaint and outdated.) Despite our preference, we don’t really have a plan yet for when we pass on. Do you?

Image courtesy of runjenrun01.