A Headstone is a final gift for your loved one. It is more than just a way to indicate where that person is buried—a headstone is a way to permanently honor them and serves as a place for others who knew them to come and do the same. Choosing a headstone can feel like a big responsibility, but it is also a great privilege.
Headstones are also called gravestones, tombstones, or grave markers. The custom of marking where loved ones are laid to rest is rooted in tradition and religion, and the options available have only grown. Choosing a headstone means choosing design, materials, size, finish, and inscription. We will discuss these in turn, but it is important to remember that your choice will be informed by the location of the burial plot and by the budget you have available for a stone. All choices come down to your preference in memorializing your loved one.
A Little Logistics
If you have the opportunity, it is easier to work out logistics before you and your loved ones must contend with the grief of death. If your loved one has a preference, that can be honored, and if not, here are some things to consider: where will your loved one be buried? You will need to know the plot size available in your preferred cemetery before choosing a headstone to mark the space. It is also important to consider if you need to arrange for two plots to be beside each other. Joint headstones, or one stone with two names engraved in it, are common for couples. They can be purchased while either or both people are still living.
Each cemetery will have its own rules about grave markers, and these will need to be taken into account as you choose one for your loved one. Contracting the creation of the stone out to a reputable supplier will make the process less stressful. When it comes to payment, the cost of a headstone is first taken from the estate if there is one available. If there is not, or if headstone funds exceed those available in the estate, the responsibility of payment falls to the spouse and the children. The family may also choose to pay out of pocket from the onset.
Types of Headstone
Even excluding more dramatic monuments like obelisks and mausoleums, there is a wide variety of stone styles to pull from as you are choosing a headstone.
Headstones in a flat style are in-set in the ground, making maintenance of them straightforward. Flat gravestones come in a variety of styles and materials, including natural stone, bronze, or concrete.
Raised-top flat markers (also called bevel markers or sloped) are similar to flat markers, but instead of being flush with the ground, the block of stone or concrete is raised in a slant, sloping either forward or backward.
Also called monuments, upright headstones are the traditional headstone associated with romantic graveyards. These markers are usually made from natural stones like limestone, granite, or marble, and nowadays they are made with a concrete base to ensure they stay upright.
These unique gravestones run the length of the grave with an upright headstone at the head. They can be otherwise flush with the ground or raised above it several inches.
Once you have selected the shape of the headstone, selecting the finish is the next step. Finishes determine the overall appearance of the stone. Polished finishes make headstones appear shiny, smooth, and highly reflective while rock pitch finishes are achieved by hand-chiseling the stone’s edges to be rough and natural-looking. The latter effect exaggerates a headstone’s apparent age and helps it to fit into traditional cemeteries, while a polished finish looks more natural in newer cemeteries. Eggshell finishes are smooth but not reflective, and frosted finishes give a unique and uncommon texture.
Inscribed with Love
The inscription on a headstone, carved into the stone for permanence, is a way to memorialize the lost one through both information and sentiment. It is typical to include in the description the full name of the deceased, their dates of birth and death, and a brief epitaph. An epitaph is a short message meant to memorialize or honor the deceased. Finding a phrase that is sufficiently meaningful may be the most difficult part of the process, but you should not have to do so alone. Enlist the help of others for suggestions.
Choosing a Headstone at Russon Brothers Mortuary
As you go through the process of choosing a headstone, we at Russon Brothers Mortuary are happy to help you discover your options for style, size, finish, and inscription. You need never feel that you are on your own while making such decisions. Give us a call today to get started.