Are There Enough Cemeteries?

Meridian, Idaho

Periodically, I wonder about stupid things.

These are questions that don’t really have an answer, but still the questions keep popping up in my head.

question mark with speech bubles, vector on the abstract background

So starting today, I’ll share some of my questions with you, dear gentle blog reader.


Here’s one of the questions that pops up often:

Are there enough cemeteries in the world do take care of all of the people who have died? 

It sure doesn’t look like it to me.

800px-St_James_CemeteryThink about it…

As you’re driving around a city and look at all the people in their cars, walking along the sidewalks, playing in the park…

Could they all fit in the cemetery you just passed?


Now way, no how.

There’s just not enough graves to take care of all the people who have died over the last, say, 100 years. And that’s even factoring in the fact that many people opt for cremation over burial.


According to an article from NBC News, in 2011 42% of the 2.5 million people who died in America were cremated. That’s higher than I thought it would be.

Interestingly, that rate is double what it was fifteen years earlier.

Even more interestingly, cremation rates are higher in the west (where there’s more space) than in the eastern states. In Nevada 74% of its population are cremated (with a population density of 25 people per square mile). In Mississippi (where 64 people live per square mile) just under 16% of people are cremated.

Regardless of cremation rates, there still doesn’t seem to be enough cemetery plots to take care of all the people who have died…


4 thoughts on “Are There Enough Cemeteries?”

  1. I have wondered about that, too. Maybe we need to switch to the approach of the crypts and ossuaries in Europe that decorate and consolidate the bones:

    Other factors contributing to the rise of cremation include the economic downturn, much cheaper costs associated with cremation (especially direct cremation in a scatter vase), the relaxing of religious prohibitions against cremation, and the geographical distances between family members.

    1. Oh my goodness, Joanne! I had no idea about the ‘bone churches’. Those are scary looking!

  2. Wow! Go Nevada! Before Mike’s dad died, Mike would ask him what he wanted done. Jiggs only said, ” You’ll know”. And, he was cremated and ashes spread near where he lived and worked first in Nevada when he road the train out here when he was 13. Theresa’s Jon was cremated and Theresa had some trouble getting even a portion of his ashes from his mom, but Theresa eventually took some to the Atlantic Ocean. I think that’s another reason for cremation – portability and sharing.

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