Cemetery allows loving couples to exceed their vows

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 5, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

At every wedding, couples vow to stay together &uot;till death do us part.&uot; The Nansemond-Suffolk Cemetery’s (NSC) mausoleum lets them stay together for even longer.

Fittingly titled a &uot;True Companion&uot; offering, the cemetery entombs one coffin inside a crypt feet-first. When it’s time for their life partner to join them in the afterlife, the other coffin is slid in headfirst – just close enough to touch for eternity.

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&uot;People like the idea of being together forever,&uot; said NSC manager Jan Purcell, in her third year of heading the cemetery located at 1421 Kings Fork Rd. NSC also allows loved ones to stay forever bonded in a side-by-side arrangement, in which crypts are laid next to each other, as well as cremation and in-ground burial.

After opening in 1998 with 240 spaces in the mausoleum, NSC now has 800, built out of granite (which, unlike the marble used to construct old tombstones, isn’t affected by natural elements such as rain and heat).

The fact that the crypts are a short distance from the parking lot is an extra bonus for funeral attendees that might be physically challenged – a person with a wheelchair or walker would have a much easier time attending an inside service than navigating a grassy area for a graveside burial. Over the next year, NSC plans to construct a new road that will run around the mausoleum for more customer space.

&uot;A lot of people think that a mausoleum is a place of burial for rich people,&uot; said Purcell, &uot;but it can be less expensive than in-ground burial, in which you need an in-ground space, a vault to put the casket in, and a headstone. Here, you just need a crypt.&uot; Temperature isn’t a problem – the mausoleum is climate-controlled, heated during the winter and air-conditioned during the summer.

Buyers can even pick the level on which their loved ones are placed. Some prefer the lowest level, known as the Prayer level (if a person were kneeling as in prayer, they would be at eye level with their loved one). The second level is the Heart level, in which a person is near their visitor’s heart. Eye level is third, Touch, fourth and Heaven at the fifth and top (the least expensive option).

&uot;Our prices are kept low, because we’re locally owned,&uot; Purcell said. &uot;The Oliver family has always been more mindful of helping people.&uot; The family has operated a funeral home in Norfolk for over a century, as well as chapels in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

Pre-paying is an alternative for cemetery needs.

&uot;When a death occurs,&uot; Purcell said, &uot;there’s an awful lot of expenses, as well as a lot of emotional things that have nothing to do with money. People often can’t make good decisions then. It’s a tremendous help to do it in advance.&uot;

For more information, please call 925-1400.