When it comes to laying a loved one to rest, it can feel overwhelming to work through the list of things that need to be organised. Whether the individual has a funeral plan or has left no instructions at all, it’s important to make sure all legalities are followed and you get the chance to say goodbye with respect. A headstone after a traditional funeral is customary to leave a mark. It allows people to identify where a loved one was laid to rest and gives them a space to pay their respects in the future. When it comes to choosing the right headstone, there are several factors to consider – all of which we will go through in this guide here today.
Check Regulations for a Burial Site
Before you start searching for and researching to find the perfect headstone, it pays to discuss the regulations at your chosen burial site. You will need permission from the landowner to put a headstone on a grave. Only the person named on the Deed of Grand to the cemetery plot is permitted to do this and only if the cemetery or burial spot allows it. If this permission is not gained, the registered grave owner can have the headstone removed. So check with your chosen location to make sure you abide by all necessary rules.
How to Choose a Headstone
There are many checkpoints you’ll need to mark off when choosing a headstone, including:
- Choosing an inscription.
- Choosing the type of stone.
- Choosing how it will be installed.
- Identifying your budget.
- Choosing a supplier.
- Checking over a draft.
Let’s look at these individually to help you.
Choosing an Inscription
Also known as an ‘epitaph’, the inscription that you choose will do three things:
- Show the name of the deceased.
- Show the years that the deceased lived.
- Include a message that brings their spirit to life or provides comfort for loved ones.
Headstones act as a marker for the grave and are designed to stay in place for many years to come. It pays to keep the message timeless and short. You want to capture the essences of the deceased with a message that will keep its meaning.
Choosing the Right Stone
Something you may not know before you begin your research is that headstones can be made from a wide variety of different materials. All of which are designed to be strong, durable and long-lasting, paying homage to your loved one for hundreds of years. The most popular ones are:
A highly popular and beautiful choice, granite has an exquisite shine when polished and shaped. It is highly resistant against heat, fluctuating temperatures and acid rain pollution, allowing it to be used in most environments. Over time, a white film will develop over the surface of a granite gravestone. While this will impact the look of the headstone for some time, it also makes it easy to bring back its original lustre with a professional polish.
If you’re looking for exquisite beauty, there’s no other option than marble. Largely used in the late 1800s to early 1900s, it is easy to polish, cut and carve. Because of its soft nature, marble is perfect for sculptures and carving – especially if you’re looking for something more ornate to celebrate your loved one. Be aware that, over time, marble can begin to erode due to exposure to moisture which can cause the inscription and any light carvings to blur. You may also see a granular finish across the surfaces which is known as sugaring.
Limestone is an older material that is still highly favoured for headstones. This is due to the fact it is soft enough to be carved easily into various designs and styles to fit your needs. It is not the longest-lasting option and can be easily broken down by plants. The appearance is also likely to fade over time so consider this if you’re hoping to keep the memory of your loved one alive for longer.
Slate is an extremely popular and hard-wearing option for headstones. They have an attractive dark tone, offer brilliant durability, and stand the test of time against various weather elements. However, if any mistakes are made during the engraving process, there is very little you can do to rectify this. If you want to opt for a gravestone of this design, make sure to work with an experienced and precise engraver to get the excellent finish you’re looking for.
Normally, a cemetery or gravestone supplier will be able to support you with the installation process. Many cemeteries hire their installation specialists which take one consideration off your hands during the funeral arrangements. You need to factor in the costs for this as additional fees will need to be covered before you have the headstone created.
Choosing a Supplier
As with any investment for your loved one, it’s important to do your research. Many Funeral Directors, like Wallace Stuart, can provide a host of options when it comes to headstones and grave accessories. You may also choose to go with an external supplier but make sure you always do your research. You’ll need someone who has created similar pieces before, in the material you’re looking for. Speak to other people who have been through this experience before you. Make sure to specify your budget early on to make sure you don’t fall in love with something you cannot afford. And make sure to ask them to produce a draft so you can check that everything is correct before the creation.