Before deciding on the material and style of your headstone or marker, be sure that it is allowed by the cemetery. Some cemeteries have certain restrictions. For example, space limitations may prohibit a large gravestone, or the cemetery may require certain materials to maintain a style consistent with the surrounding headstones. Before going any further, contact the cemetery and touch base with them regarding the type of marker that you’re considering.
Select the type of grave marker
The following are some common styles of grave markers:
- Footstone – Generally made of marble, this marker is located at the foot of the grave.
- Upright Headstone – A two-piece, traditional marker.
- Slant and Bevel Markers – Sloped stone markers, usually used to distinguish an individual from the surrounding family grave markers.
- Niche Marker – Usually found in a mausoleum, this plaque attaches to the wall outside a niche.
- Lawn-Level Marker – A stone that is level with the ground.
- Ledger Stone – A large stone that covers the area of the grave.
Select the grave marker material
The following are some common materials to choose from:
- Granite – Known for its durability, this is a very popular choice. Historically, granite was quite pricey, but it has become increasingly affordable in recent years, and is now one of the cheaper options.
- Marble – Often chosen for aesthetic reasons, marble is a beautiful, smooth material. Unfortunately, it also weathers easily. While it lasts, it looks terrific, but the inscription may eventually fade.
- Bronze – A sturdy and aesthetically pleasing choice, bronze requires very little upkeep. However, it is a more expensive option.
Look into the cemetery’s installation services
Contact the cemetery about installation the grave marker. If the cemetery offers installation services (it probably will), ask about the installation fee. In the off-chance that they don’t, you can pay a local monument installer to set it for you.
Grave markers for veterans
If you are an eligible veteran the Department of Veterans Affairs will provide a free headstone or appropriate marker for your grave. Generally, this service doesn’t include spouses, and installation fees will still apply in a private cemetery.
After the loss of a loved one, families are often distracted by all the decisions that have to be made and are unable to fully focus on their grief. When you can, remove as many of these obstacles as possible ahead of time. If the details of your burial are important to you, talk to your loved ones about your preferences in advance, or prepare instructions that they have access to after you are gone. If decisions about your grave marker aren’t particularly important to you, communicate your flexibility to your family, so that when the time comes, they won’t stress over trying to determine your wishes.