Grave - burial place

Cemeteries and burial plots are sacrosanct under the law. No constructions may be built near a cemetery if they produce noise or hustle. The same applies to the operation of institutions or companies.

Grave, cross, marking and headstone

  • People of all religious associations and those not belonging to any such associations are legally entitled to a burial plot in the parish where they died or where they were most recently resident, or where their relatives wish to have them buried.
  • If the departed person did not have a reserved burial place in a cemetery, a new burial place will be allocated to them. It is possible to reserve one or two burial plots at the side of the deceased.
  • If a burial place has been reserved for the departed, the person with whom it is registered must give written permission that it may be used for a grave. This does not apply if the departed has registered the burial place.
  • Funeral parlors arrange for the procurement of burial places.
  • All graves are identified by a numerical mark in the database of gravesites.
  • In the Fossvogskirkjugardur cemetery there is a special plot for urns containing the ashes of stillborn babies.
  • Most cemeteries have monuments or memorial plots where the relatives of those who are buried in other places or who are lost and have not been found can hold moments of remembrance for the departed.

Cross – Base – Headstone

  • The majority of graves are marked with a cross, base or headstone; this applies equally to burial plots and plots for cremation urns.
  • These are marked with the name of the departed, their date of birth and the date of their death. Many also choose to have words of blessing and religious symbols and/or a simple decoration.
  • The initial use of crosses or light markings is recommended on the grave in the burial plot while the soil sinks and compacts.
  • If the relatives wish, the funeral parlours can provide crosses, bases and headstones.
  • There are many companies in the stone industry that design and produce headstones and other accessories.

Other matters concerning funerals

Music – singing – reading – schedule of psalms.

  • Both religious and secular music are often played during funeral ceremonies, and there are frequently readings as well. Often the departed has provided instructions or indicated his/her wishes for a certain poem or chapter from a book to be read, for psalms to be sung or for certain pieces of music to be played.
  • Religious ministers, funeral parlours and heads of religious associations offer assistance with the selection of music and performers if requested. The national church operates on the basic rule that live music should always be used during funeral ceremonies. There are exceptions when CDs are played prior to the ceremony, or due to special circumstances. Musicians and other individuals who might be involved in funeral services:
  • Organist.
  • Solo singer.
  • Choir.
  • Solo musician.
  • Musicians.
  • Reader.
  • CDs.

Order of service

  • When a funeral has been organised in consultation with a minister, the head of a religious association or the funeral parlour, most relatives choose to have an order of service prepared. The order of service shows which psalms and music will be played, who the performers are, who the minister performing the funeral service is, and even words of thanks and a farewell from the relatives.
  • The relatives can either have the funeral parlour organise the arrangement and printing of the order of service, or they can organise this themselves.

Flowers and wreaths

  • It is customary to place a bouquet, floral arrangements or the national flag on the burial casket at funerals. If the commendation takes place in the church, care should be taken that the flag is folded so that it will not touch the soil. The flag is removed from the casket before the casket is lowered into the grave.
  • It is common for people to send flowers and wreaths to commemorate the departed, and these are arranged beside the casket during the ceremony.
  • Sometimes the relatives choose beforehand not to accept any flowers and wreaths, and instead ask potential givers to make donations to humanitarian associations instead.

Links of interest

Laws and regulations