Reasons we exhume

There are many reasons why we may consider the prospect of an exhumation.  Some ethnic and cultural groups bury their loved one in Australia and after a period of time exhume their loved one and return them to their country of origin.

Some Religious faiths have a similar process.  For example, in the Greek Orthodox faith, the person is buried for a period of time, then exhumed and in some cases, the bones are then washed and placed in a vessel of significance.

Sometimes families will seek to bring together all their deceased family members to be buried in the one place of significance.  Families may lose contact with a family member only to find many years later they have passed away and been buried away from family and loved ones.  Once discovered, families may choose to exhume their loved one and have them reunited in a family grave or at one cemetery.

In other cases, town planning and community growth can sometime make exhumation necessary.  At times, the historical way we care for our loved ones has to make way for the needs of the future and either entire cemeteries or sections of cemeteries need to be transferred or moved to accommodate community infrastructure and transport expansion.  It is an unhappy thought but nevertheless a fact that sometimes progress takes precedence over historical and even deeply personal matters.

Occasionally people emigrate or move states within Australia and cannot bear the thought of leaving their loved ones behind.  They make a practical decision to take their loved one with them.  This would generally be the case with a very permanent move.

The last problem and probably the most unforeseen reason we would have to perform an exhumation is in the event of a mistake being made   where a mistake has been made.  With the best will and intention and extreme care all funeral directors and cemetery management staff work hard to bury a deceased person in the right grave.  Unfortunately though extremely rare, mistakes can happen.  Most families faced with such an emotionally distressing event would seek to involve a third party such as Exhumations Australia to solve the problem and correct the mistake.

The question of what will remain

While we may make assumptions based on stories of archaeologists’ findings after centuries of burial, no understanding or guarantee can be given of what will be found until we are actually on site and the grave is opened on the day of the exhumation, especially if it is after a very long period of time.

What we will find when the grave is opened for exhumation is affected by many factors. The major determinants are:
• The material used in the making of the coffin or casket;
• The composition of the surrounding soil;
• The location of the grave in either wet or dry surroundings; and
• The temperature range of the locality of the cemetery
Exhumations Australia can guarantee to treat all human remains, whatever their condition, with the utmost respect.

Advice on the likely state of remains can be given by Exhumations Australia, once we are provided with locality of the cemetery where the exhumation is to be performed.