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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 not mandatory.

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.


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