Before you read on we would like to point out something important. Many people upon losing a loved one feel they need to immediately make the necessary arrangements. If this applies to you then please understand that the choosing of headstones for graves is not an urgent matter. Most burial grounds will insist that the ground is given time to settle before a headstone can be erected.
We hope to be able to give you all the information you need – when you are ready.
Throughout this site we may also refer to headstones as gravestones or tombstones. While traditionally these may have been different, today we tend to consider them all to be the same form of grave marker.
Headstones for Graves – what are my choices?
You may or may not have some ideas in mind. But it is essential that you determine your local burial ground rules and regulations. We realise that your choice of burial ground will have been influenced by factors such as the religion, customs or personal choice of your loved one, as well as your location and local options. It may be a cemetery, a churchyard, or even a natural burial ground. But the regulations which encompass all burials are known as the Cemetery Rules and Regulations. These will directly affect the monument style, size, color – even the inscription.
However, there are no national regulations regarding the erection of cemetery monuments or headstones for graves. Each cemetery will have it’s own rules to follow, and they will – very understandably – enforce them. So contact the relevant person and ensure you know exactly what these regulations are. You will then at least understand your available options. You may well find these options extremely limited. For instance – in many natural burial sites the only form of grave marker allowed is a plant or tree with a memorial plaque.
Headstone style and design.
The aim in choosing a grave marker.
The reasons for erecting headstones for graves have changed dramatically over the years. In more superstitious times the stone or stones were there to hold down the spirit of the deceased. Carved skulls or fearful inscriptions were meant to remind us of the mortality of man.
By the 1800s the gravestone – or very often whole tomb – was a sign of wealth and power of a person or family. Large and ornate was the style.
And of course throughout history the style of the grave and it’s surroundings have been directly influenced by religion. Somewhere for the surviving friends and relatives to come and pay their respects. Not only to their departed but also to their God. This is still as true today as it’s ever been.
But what else are we looking for today?
Don’t underestimate the importance of closure. The choice of headstones for graves are an important factor in the grievance process. Many people may see the funereal as closure. But for so many others the choice of and erection of the grave marker is that opportunity to finally say goodbye. There is something so final in the process. It can therefore be so very personal to both you and your loved one.
So where do I go to order a gravestone?
Until recently this would all have been arranged through your local funereal director or cemetery. Even today this is still a sensible option as you will receive the benefit of their knowledge and experience. They will not only be able to advise you on your options, they will also understand your local cemetery rules and regulations.
You may instead choose to go directly to a local supplier of memorials and headstones for graves. You will find that he / she will not only help with the design but also look after the headstone placement and fixing.
A third option is to order your memorial online. This can seem to be lacking the personal touch as you will only see the stone when it has arrived – in some instances not until it has been erected. But you may find that there are considerable cost advantages to buying online as headstone prices do tend to be less. Just ensure that you take out any necessary carriage insurance before it is shipped.
Another issue with ordering online is that the headstone will still need to be erected. It is possible – though unlikely – that the company will be able to arrange this so you have two other choices:-
- a local supplier as described above. Many will be happy to erect a tombstone even if they haven’t supplied it.
- check with the burial ground to see if it is something they can arrange.
Obviously be aware that any cost savings you have already made may disappear after taking into account these additional costs.
Another factor to be aware of is that – as stated above – the ordering from anyone but a local supplier is a very recent introduction to the whole process. Many cemeteries and burial grounds have had trouble adjusting to this. It is possible that they may inform you that they can only accept grave makers from their ‘approved’ suppliers. It is actually illegal for them to take this stance and you need to stand your ground on this issue. So they will be forced – legally – to back down. But they can still reject any headstones for graves upon arrival if they can prove that they don’t conform to the regulations. So for this reason make sure they are 100% aware of the design and inscription before you place your order.
It is obviously very natural that you should want to maintain your loved one’s grave and headstone. How possible this is will depend upon how often you can visit the graveside and upon your own physical capabilities. Don’t wait until Memorial Day to complete this task. Ideally it should be an on-going process. Again, speak to the cemetery director regarding your wishes and intentions. It will also be his aim to maintain the whole area so he should be happy to help and advise. He may even know of someone locally who could look after the area for you in return for a small fee.
How should I clean the headstone?
The cemetery authorities themselves will look after grass cutting. However, if you have any form of kerb or fencing around the grave (many authorities will not allow this anyway) then you will most likely have to look after this interior area yourself.
Tombstones and other monuments do not need the cleaning they once did due to the manufacturing materials used today. But you are still likely to find a small but gradual build-up of dirt or lichen. The best products to clean headstones for graves are non-ionic detergents. These will avoid any scratching or staining which may occur with other soaps or detergents. Use a small soft brush to apply and a cloth to wipe off. If you need to use a scraper make sure it is a soft plastic one. However, if you can keep on top of the maintenance you may find that a simple wipe down with water will be sufficient.
Of course – nothing makes a grave look cleaner and more loved than fresh cemetery flowers.
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