Caretaker Terry Miller heats the frozen ground in preparation for a winter burial.
Today is supposed to be the coldest day this winter. With air temperature near 20 below, it seems like a terrible day for a burial. But there is one scheduled at Calvary.
Minnesota is one of several states that requires cemeteries to provide winter burials — if the family requests one. Some families need a prompt burial to help provide closure for grieving. A prompt winter burial also eliminates the need for a second trip in the spring or summer for far-flung family members.
Even if there wasn’t a law, the burial would still happen at Calvary. It’s about customer service.
“It all comes down to what the family needs,” says Terry Miller, Calvary Caretaker.
But a growing trend at Calvary, for cremation burials, is to postpone a winter burial and instead, have a warm weather event that provides a more pleasant family get-together.
“Don’t get me wrong. We’re having plenty of burials this winter. But I’m seeing more and more families with cremation burials decide to hold off until the summer, maybe to double up with a family reunion,” says Terry.
With cremation burials continuing to increase (now at 55%), the need to hurry with the burial seems less urgent to many families, he said.
A hundred years ago, before jackhammers, backhoes and propane ground heaters, it was customary to store bodies in a vault over the winter and wait for the frost to leave the ground. Even now, it takes 24 hours of ground heating to remove the frost for excavation.