Gravestone Decorating Ideas

Gravestone Decorating IdeasOne of the reasons we have cemeteries and headstones as a culture is because of how important it is to have a physical place to grieve. Regardless of your beliefs about the afterlife, being able to make a connection to a grave, a physical location, or a columbarium niche is part of the grieving process. You can talk with your loved one, reflect on your loss, and decorate the spot—all of which help you to heal and move through your grief.

Decorating gravestones has been a cultural practice for centuries. From flowers and plants to elaborate ribbons and holiday decorations, many people find it soothing to beautify a grave site in honor of the deceased.

In recent years, the practice has waned due to cemetery restrictions, which don’t always allow you to put up any kind of decorations you want. Because everyone needs to be able to feel comfortable and at peace when they arrive in the cemetery, decorations must be tactful, in good repair, and inoffensive to all.

  1. Always check with a cemetery before you place decorations. They will be able to let you know what the guidelines are so you don’t waste your time or your money on something that will have to be discarded.

  1. Choose artificial or real flowers. Although you probably won’t be allowed to plant a flowering bush or annuals on a gravesite, you may be able to place cut flowers (in an appropriate vase or container) or artificial ones. Flowers work well as a decoration because of their association with death, and because they aren’t meant to stay in place forever. Make sure you return to dispose of them once the flowers fade or are no longer in full bloom.

  1. Look into a permanent vase option. Many types of headstones have a vase extension option that makes it easy to place flowers. These attach to the headstone and match the overall aesthetic, and can be removed when you don’t have flowers to put out.

  1. Wreaths are often available for purchase. Cemetery wreaths and crosses are very common (especially around holidays like Easter, Memorial Day, and Christmas). These can usually be purchased through the cemetery, who will also take the time to put them up and take them down for you.

  1. Drape ribbons or fabric. An upright headstone provides more opportunities for decoration that an in-ground one, since you can drape colorful ribbons, swathes of fabric, and other personal items on the top.

  1. Personal mementos work well for more intimate decorations. A framed picture, a teddy bear, a beloved book—none of these things will last long at a grave, but they can send an important message and provide comfort.

  1. Bird-feeders encourage nature. If the cemetery allows bird feeders, you can place one of these on a grave to encourage wildlife to visit. These tend to work best in family cemeteries or areas where you can spend some time at the grave to enjoy the sights.

  1. Placing pebbles on a grave is a traditional Jewish custom, but it has become popular even among non-practitioners. Symbolizing the permanence of memory, this religious custom is one that touches the heart of many.

Any type of grave decoration is likely to remain only for a few weeks, so be sure and make regular visits to ensure everything is in good repair. The best decorations are the ones that are updated and replaced regularly, as they show your love and commitment.

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