Types of Headstones
One aspect of funeral planning that occurs at the cemetery is deciding which headstone to place on the grave. The headstone, or tombstone as it is traditionally known, has taken many different forms throughout history. From simple markers to more elaborate statues, people have used the headstone as a way to memorialize the loss of a loved one and to ensure that the grave can be found for future generations.
Although today’s headstone options tend to be more subtle than what was used in years past, you can use this opportunity to personalize the grave and make a final contribution to the memory of the deceased.
What are Headstones Made Of?
Headstones are usually made of one of five materials: granite, concrete, marble, iron, or bronze. The majority of headstones used in funeral plans today are granite, with options in colors like gray, black, brown, red, green, or even pink. These materials stand up well to time and weather, and provide an elegant look to the cemetery.
Of all the options, concrete tends to be the most cost-effective, while others prefer the formal look of marble or granite. There is no law that designates what material you can have for your headstone, though individual cemeteries may have rules regarding the size and placement of the headstone as part of their overall aesthetics.
What Kinds of Headstones are There?
You might be pre-planning your own funeral or making decisions following a recent loss, but in either case, you’ll need to choose a headstone. There are many different types, including:
Upright Headstones: As the name suggests, these headstones sit upright as traditional block headstones. These thick, heavy options are the ones most people associate most with a cemetery.
Flat Headstones: These are the most common type of headstones chosen by today’s funeral consumer, due to a low overall cost and easy maintenance. They lie flat on the
ground like a plaque, presenting a streamlined and clean look to the entire cemetery.
Obelisk Headstones: An obelisk is a tall, tapered spire built on a square base. These are less common in today’s funeral setting because they are so large and expensive, but they may be used to indicate a family plot or person of importance in the community.
Military Headstones: If the deceased served in the U.S. Armed Forces, he or she may be eligible for a military headstone, which is typically offered free of charge. Options
include a veteran medallion attached to the headstone, a flat headstone, or even an upright headstone in select cemeteries.
Memorial Benches: Memorial benches provide both a place to sit and the inscription of the family name or deceased. Like obelisks, they tend to more expensive than other headstone options, but they can provide a beautiful look to the site.
Choosing a Headstone
Unlike caskets, which are usually purchased through a funeral home, headstones are chosen either through a cemetery or via a third-party vendor. Private cemeteries may have their own rules regarding what type of headstones they allow in certain areas (as part of the overall upkeep and aesthetics of the place), and if you have a specific headstone in mind, you may need to find the right cemetery that will allow it.
By federal law, however, all cemeteries are required to allow you to purchase the headstone from a third-party provider during the funeral planning process. If you opt for this, though, the cemetery may still charge an installation fee to secure it in place.