Choosing a Gravestone

A gravestone represents a person’s legacy to the world. Choosing the right one can be viewed as being just as important as selecting the right name at birth. In fact, headstones last for centuries to come, which is much longer than anyone’s time alive.

Questions to Ask the Cemetery

Before you have your heart set on any particular gravestone, there is an important conversation to be had with the cemetery management. You will want to clarify any rules or regulations that the cemetery has and plan to adhere to them. They usually offer gravestones to choose from as well, and some may even require that you use their maker.

Other questions to ask may include:

  • Are there any rules on the dimensions of a headstone?

  • Are there any certain materials that are not allowed?

  • Do you offer installation, and if so, what is the fee?

If you have one picked out, it may be a good idea to present them with a photo of the gravestone in order to get approval before you purchase it. Having these answers gives you a better understanding of your options.

Choosing the Right Gravestone

Nowadays, many gravestones show more than just a name and dates. The epitaph, along with any design work needs to carefully selected to truly represent the person being honored. It may be best to stay away from trendy lettering or humor on a headstone. The gravestone should appear timeless, as it truly is. Brainstorm with family and those that knew the person best in order to decide on the perfect epitaph. Remember that you do not have to have it all set and ready by the funeral date. Extra time can be taken to figure out the exact specifications of the stone.

Beyond carvings and inscriptions, other factors to consider would be:

  • The family’s budget for funeral costs and how the gravestone measured into it.

  • The cost compared to the look of stone or materials that it will be made from.

  • Choosing hand-carved work over machines gives you more flexibility when it comes to creativity. It also gives more freedom with the spacing of words and what can fit.

  • Phrases such as “in loving memory of” are very overused.

  • There are also different finishes available, but some places do not allow highly-polished stones as they can brightly reflect the sun.

  • If the gravestone is on the smaller side, you will need to be less wordy and decorative.

Lastly, if a cemetery requires you to use any particular supplier or installer, you might have the legal right to disagree. Cemeteries often have the highest fees. If for some reason this becomes an important issue, ask to see their by-laws.