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Home > Articles & Guides > Choosing a Headstone for a Family Member

Choosing a Headstone for a Family Member

Choosing HeadstonesChoosing a headstone for your loved one is not an easy thing to do, but this article will help you through the process. Ordering a headstone for your loved one is an important step in the healing process. The completed headstone is an everlasting tribute that can be cherished for years to come.

When choosing a headstone or grave marker, there are several things that need to be taken into consideration. First and foremost it is important to know what the Cemetery Rules & Regulations for headstones are. Having this information beforehand is crucial to ensure the right memorial is ordered the first time.

Probably the biggest deciding factor in choosing a headstone is the cost. Many people have been deterred from purchasing a memorial or had to settle on downsizing their choice simply because high prices.

Once you know what kind of memorial can be placed on the grave you can consider the different options you have in choosing a memorial. They include:

  • Materials/Construction
  • Selecting a size that is suitable
  • Granite color and vase option
  • Choosing a meaningful design
  • Personalization

Materials: Bronze or Granite

If the cemetery grants you the option of choosing either bronze or granite for a memorial here are some things to consider.

Bronze Grave Markers

Bronze grave markers are very popular and their use is growing rapidly throughout the country in memorial parks. Many modern memorial parks only allow bronze grave markers to be used as a memorial because it gives the cemetery a uniform look and it is easier to maintain the grounds.

Bronze grave markers are made from an alloy consisting of copper, tin and trace amounts of lead and zinc. They are usually mounted to a base of granite, concrete or in some cases a composite material. The person's name and dates as well as the design are cast on a bronze plaque which is then hand finished and given a protective coating. If the bronze grave marker is for a person that is still living, the final date can be added on a scroll (another name for a small plaque that is attached to the existing bronze plaque).

Granite Headstones

Granite headstones are the most popular form of cemetery memorials. Practically all of cemeteries in the US allow some form of granite memorials. Natural stone is one of the oldest forms of memorialization and granite is the best possible choice. This is because granite is a durable stone and one of the hardest substances on earth.

Granite Headstones are made from granite that has been quarried from the earth. Utilizing specialized machinery and skilled craftsmen, the granite stone is cut to a specified size and finished normally with a polished surface. An artist will design the memorial complete with name and dates, which is then engraved onto the stone surface by means of sandblasting. If the granite headstone is a pre-need headstone the final date(s) will be added by simply sandblasting the final date on the headstone at the time of need. This is usually done on-site at the cemetery. A space for it is already provided for it when the memorial was first produced.

Headstone Sizes

Many cemeteries regulate the size of the headstone that can be placed on the grave space. Some offer a minimum and maximum size and as long as the headstone is within these guidelines it will be okay. Other cemeteries are very strict with their size requirements and will only allow particular sizes for headstones. It is very important to select a headstone that is within the size requirements.

You will want to select a monument dealer that offers a range of sizes to accommodate your needs and the requirements of the cemetery.

Granite Colors

The color of a granite headstone can be a very important decision. Some people choose a color based on personal reasoning. Others choose color so that it sets itself apart from others in the cemetery. Some cemeteries restrict the color of granite being used for a headstone or grave marker. You will want to verify with the cemetery if they have any granite color requirements before making a purchase.

There is a wide variety of granite colors available for a headstone, but not all monument dealers will carry them. In fact most dealers carry a selection that represents the major color groups. You can learn more about granite colors by reading Granite Colors Used for Grave Headstones.

Vase Option

Many people who visit a loved one's grave in the cemetery bring flowers to the gravesite. A flower vase is a very convenient option on a headstone or grave marker. It accents the memorial when filled with fresh or silk flowers and brings beauty to the resting place of your loved one. Most upright headstones have a place on either side of the base for the placement of a flower vase. Flat grave markers can have a hole cored to accommodate a bronze flower vase. Bronze vases, when not in use, can be turned upside down and placed flush into the memorial.

Design & Layout

Probably the most important aspect of a headstone or grave marker is the design. Many families placed such importance on this area since they feel it is a reflection of the person the memorial is for. A design can depict a scenic location, a favorite flower or a have religious significance. A design can be further personalized by the use of emblems.

You will find there are limitless design possiblilities for creating a memorial headstone. They include an array of floral, religious and scenic motifs just to name a few. When choosing a design you may want to consider the symbolism behind many of the different elements within a particular memorial design. For example a dogwood design features the dogwood tree's flowers and leaves around the border. The dogwood flower symbolizes Christianity, divine sacrifice, triumph of eternal life, and resurrection. Choosing a headstone with symbolism significant to the deceased is much more fitting.

Headstone Personalization

After you have selected all other options you now have the opportunity to personalize the headstone. You start with the person's name, date of birth and date of death. You can further personalize the headstone or grave marker with emblems or adding an epitaph.

An emblem is an image or insignia of a particular interest such as a sport, religion, hobby, military branch, animal, vehicle to name a few. They are usually 2" - 4" in size and are cast on a bronze plaque or sandblasted on a granite headstone.

As you can see there is plenty to learn regarding the choice of a headstone for a family member. We hope this section was beneficial to you in your quest for information on choosing a headstone.

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