When is the Best Time to Add a
Headstone Marker on a Grave?
By Jasmin Legger
Headstone markers, also called grave markers, are used
to identify a grave of a deceased family member. Usually
this is the last step in the process of burying a loved
one. For many it also constitutes the point of closure
when visiting the grave. However when is the right time
to add the headstone marker on the grave?
For one, it depends on the religious customs. Usually
religions do not specify the best time to place the
marker on the grave, however for example in the Jewish
religion there must be a headstone marker placed on the
grave in order to properly identify the grave. In the
Jewish tradition the headstone marker should be placed
no longer than a year after the burial, however it is
There are some cemeteries that require a particular
amount of time to actually pass before the grave marker
is placed on the grave. One of the main reason for this
is because the dirt that covers the grave needs time to
actually settle. Fresh graves move and settle for a
while before they actually become fixed in the ground
finding their place. This makes the headstones shift and
particularly upright headstone markers might be affected
by it. Lawn level markers have also this problem, but
not as radical as upright markers. They can still,
however, slant a bit.
If an upright headstone marker is placed too early, it
might start to lean as the grave still settles in the
ground. Particularly dangerous of this are areas with
plenty of rain during the year. Rain brings ahead the
settlement of a fresh grave.
In some cases the cemetery caretakers level the fresh
grave with a tampering machine that is gas powered. This
will simply compact the free, loose dirt that is above a
freshly covered grave. Then this is caped off with a new
layer of sod that restores the grave space to its
previous place. Basically this has an effect of reducing
the time needed to pass until headstone markers are
added on the grave.
A third reason for the delay of placing the marker on
the grave is simply personal grief. Losing a loved one
is a very painful, stressful and grief-filled time and
people simply push aside the decision for later when
they don't hurt so bad any longer. It is very difficult
to make such a decision in such a time. Also waiting for
a bit before buying that expensive grave marker is a
wise decision as one should not rush into it, but should
wait until things have calmed down.
When you are ready to place the headstone marker on the
grave, the funeral director or a representative can help
you determine which is the right marker for the grave
you want to use it on.