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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Rules, Norms and Practices - A Comparative Study Exploring Disposal Practices and Facilities in Northern Europe

Nordh, Helena; House, Danielle; Westendorp, Mariske; Maddrell, Avril; Wingren, Carola; Kmec, Sonja; McClymont, Katie; Jedan, Christoph; Uteng, Tanu Priya; Beebeejaun, Yasminah; Venbrux, Eric


We identify and analyse practices and management regimes around burial and handling of ashes across eight case study towns within six Northern European countries. We analyse management of cemeteries and crematoria gardens, majority practices and provision for minority communities, including various burial types, cremated remains, the re-use of graves, and costs for interments. Comparative data is drawn from analysis of national and local regulations, interviews with stakeholders, and observations at cemeteries and crematoria gardens. The findings show significant variation in national and local regulations and practices for burial and cremation particularly around the re-use of graves, handling of ashes and costs for grave space and cremation. We identify the opportunities and constraints of these variations in terms of accessibility, diversity and equality; and argue for national directions to avoid unequal treatment within nations. Furthermore, we stress the importance of a liberal and inclusive management of European cemeteries and crematoria gardens.


burial; grave; cemeteries; crematoria; multicultural societies; religious diversity

Published in

OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying
2021, article number: 00302228211042138

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
House, Danielle
University of Reading
Westendorp, Mariske
University of Groningen
Maddrell, Avril
University of Reading
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Kmec, Sonja
University of Luxembourg
Jedan, Christoph
University of Groningen
Uteng, Tanu Priya
Institute of Transport Economics
Beebeejaun, Yasminah
University of London
Venbrux, Eric
Radboud University Nijmegen

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

UKÄ Subject classification

Human Geography

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