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The Disadvantages of Mausoleum Burials

Updated April 17, 2017

Mausoleums are above-ground structures specially designed to hold the remains of one or more deceased individuals. They offer an alternative to internments in the ground, cremation and other funerary options. A columbarium is a series of compartments designed to hold cremated remains inside of a mausoleum. Although mausoleum use is an old practice used throughout history, there are still some risks in being entombed today.

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Shared Space

Mausoleums are often community spaces. They are specially designed to hold the coffins and remains of a maximum number of people in a minimally sized area. Mausoleums may be designated for use by only a certain family or group, but they can also house the remains of strangers. Individuals who do not mind being deposited above ground with several other people may not be bothered by this. Some people may find the close quarters to be undesirable.

Fluid Leaks

Mausoleums are considered to be clean and dry burial options. However, sometimes fluids from decomposing bodies can leak out of the casket and into the crypt. There have been reports of decomposition fluids leaking all the way out of the crypt to the outside. This problem can happen in specially designed sealed caskets that do not have any type of ventilation. Vents allow the body to dehydrate, discouraging the build-up of fluids that can leak and cause a sanitation hazard.

Casket Explosions

Sealed caskets with no ventilation sometimes experience an accumulation of gases emitted from decomposing bodies. The build-up of gases sometimes becomes so intense and pressurised that the casket explodes. An explosion not only disturbs the body but can also destroy at least part of the mausoleum's crypt as well. This undesirable phenomenon is referred to as "exploding casket system" in the funeral industry.


Mausoleums are highly visible to passer-by, unlike ground interments and crematory deposits. Sometimes mausoleums are broken into by vandals. The mausoleum's main structure may be defaced. Vandals may enter the crypt and break into vaults to disturb the bodies and steal any grave goods. Graveyards are typically not patrolled, so the likelihood of catching criminals in the act of defacement or looting is low.

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About the Author

Sarah Clark has been writing since 1997, with work appearing in Northern Arizona University's "Student Life Organization Newsletter." She holds a B.A. in anthropology with a minor in art history from Northern Arizona University.

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