Building the Perfect Headstone For
Your Loved One
By Joseph Mccabe
Purchasing a headstone for a loved one who has recently
passed can be a daunting task especially given the
nature of this type of purchase and the lack of
experience one may have. Where does one go to find more
information about buying a headstone and designing one?
Well look no further because herein lies the answers to
these and more questions.
What Will the Cemetery Allow?
STOP! Before reading anything else, at least read this
section before purchasing a headstone. You don't want to
get stuck with a headstone the cemetery will not accept
because the correct procedures were not followed.
Cemeteries typically regulate the kind of headstones or
monuments allowed in their cemetery by a set of rules
and regulations. It is within these rules that a
cemetery will stipulate the particulars of the
gravestone such as:
Type of grave headstone allowed - upright headstone,
flat grave marker, Stone grave marker, cremation
The size of the headstone - usually followed by the
minimum and maximum sizes allowed
Headstone coloring - granite colors allowed, Stone
Vase option - whether or not a vase is allowed and what
type of materials are required
Additionally the cemetery may require a document to be
submitted such as a 'Memorialization Authorization' form
in which the lot owner authorizes the placement of a
memorial headstone on the grave space. Once you know
what the cemetery will allow you are ready to proceed to
Types of Cemetery Headstones Available
There are many styles of headstones available, but they
typically fall into a 4 major groups. Within these
groups are several specific styles of grave headstones.
Upright headstones - This type of headstone consists of
an upright monument tablet that rests on a base normally
made of granite.
Slant markers - Shaped like a wedge with the narrow edge
pointing upward, these markers can be purchased with or
without a granite base that sets under the marker.
Flat grave markers - Usually made from granite or marble
these set flush with the ground and are an economical
choice because of their small size.
Flat Stone grave markers - Consisting of a Stone
Upright mounted to a granite base (in most cases), Stone
grave markers are required by many of the modern
memorial park cemeteries in the country.
Finding the Best Headstone Prices
When shopping around for the best price on a cemetery
headstone make sure you have the exact particulars for
the headstone you want to by so you can compare apples
with apples. You will want to have:
The size of the headstone and all of its components
The granite color, example colors: Sunset Red, Dakota
Mahogany, Georgia Gray, Barre Gray, etc.
The finish of the headstone, example finish terms:
Polish 2, polish 5, all steeled, balance rock pitch,
penciled edges, etc.
The design and exact lettering, if possible have a
drawing of the design and layout you want for the
Any other particular items such as vases, a statue or a
Having these exact details will enable you to accurately
compare prices between different companies.
Here are a few tips to consider when seeking the best
Cemeteries typically have the highest prices for grave
Monument dealers usually have the best selection and
widest variety of offerings
Internet retailers commonly have the best prices for
Personalizing the Memorial Headstone
Once you have found the right dealer and type of
headstone to buy, now comes the task of personalizing it
with your loved one's information. Aside from the
individual's name and life dates you may want to
consider the following:
Headstone designs and artwork
An epitaph for the headstone
Emblems or symbols which will accent the headstone
Adding a ceramic portrait in the likeness of your loved
Some cemeteries allow accessories to be added to a
headstone such as a ceramic picture or the addition of a
flower vase. If the grave headstone is in a veteran's
section the cemetery may allow a flag holder which will
accommodate a small American flag. Still some may accept
a Stone, granite or marble statue to accent the
In closing, make sure to do your homework and don't rush
to get a cemetery headstone in place just for the sake
of marking the grave. You can take your time and educate
yourself so when it comes time to shopping around you
will have a good chance at getting the best value for