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5 Common Questions about Headstones & Burial Monuments

We often do not consider the many steps involved with the end of life process, until we are forced to experience the loss of a loved one. There are many decisions that one must make, preferably with the help and support of family or loved ones. These decisions may include selecting a burial monument or headstone for the deceased. However, there are many factors and questions that one might have with regards to the headstone. We have selected and answered the 5 most common questions you may have about headstones.

What are the different types of headstones?

You have several options when it comes to selecting a headstone for your loved one. Listed below are the most common types of burial headstones.

Upright Monuments

One of the most common and traditional burial monuments, is an upright monument. This headstone is commonly made from granite, limestone, or marble and stands erect. Upright burial monuments, or headstones, are fixed to the ground with a concrete base and can be engraved on both the front and the back.

Flat Headstones

Flat headstones, commonly referred to as flat markers, can be placed either flush with the ground or slightly raised to provide a slant. Flat headstones are most often made with bronze or granite.

Kerbed Headstones

Kerbed headstones, lay flat to the ground and are full-length. These headstones are a minimum of 4-inches thick and because, of their full-length signature they allow room for a more personalized expressions, when compared to that of the flat marker.

Cremation Memorials
The cremation memorial is very similar to the upright monument, in that it stands erect and is often crafted from granite, limestone, or marble. The primary difference between a cremation memorial and an upright monument is the containers, placed on either side for cremated remains. This is a particularly nice option if your loved one’s wishes are to be cremated. A cremation memorial provides family and friends with a memorial monument they can visit to pay their respects and reflect on their memory.

What is the difference between an at-need and a pre-need headstone?

An at-need headstone is commonly understood, the phrase at-need says it all. It is a headstone that you do not purchase until it is needed. However not everyone is aware of what a pre-need headstone is. This is a headstone that is purchased when one, or both, persons are still living. There are two common reasons that an individual would require a pre-need headstone. For example, couples often wish to share a headstone. Therefore, if one’s spouse had passed the living spouse would purchase a pre-need headstone. The headstone would be installed at the grave site with your spouse’s information, and your information would be added later. Another very common reason to pre order a headstone is to order one’s own headstone. This often does as an act of love, to help lighten the financial and emotional burden from the family members left behind. In addition, it may be a means of ensure that one’s own wishes, or those of a loved one’s, are carried out.

How long does it take to have a headstone or burial monument completed?

It is not unreasonable to want to know how long it will takes to make a headstone. However, giving an exact time is not always possible because, there are may variables to consider. The time frame will depend on the type and style of the headstone. The amount of etching, engraving, and customization that may be required. Additional requests and alterations could also extend the length of time taken to craft a burial monument. As a rule of thumb, one should expect approximately 3-4 weeks production time for a flat grass marker. Due to its size and the time required to carve it, an upright monument will take a little longer, around 90 days.

When does the headstone or burial monument get placed?

Another great question, how soon can the headstone be placed or erected? One could estimate anywhere from 4-8 months, as the ground needs time to settle to ensure the headstone is properly installed. However, the actual answer to this question will vary depending on religious beliefs and cemetery rules. For an exact time-frame, one should consult with the cemetery where they wish to have the headstone placed. Certain religions may also require one to wait a year before having the headstone erected. For example, in the Jewish community setting the headstone involves an unveiling ceremony, taking place within the first year.

How often should a headstone be cleaned?

It is best to only clean a headstone when the condition of the stone has cause it to become illegible. At most a burial monument should only be cleaned once a year or less, depending on the current condition of the stone. Over cleaning and improper headstone cleaning can lead to erosion and possible damage to the stone. It is best to remember your only intent should be to clean and preserve the stone, not to make it like new again. For more information on how to clean a headstone, read Cleaning Headstones, Gravestones, and Tombstones.

If you have more questions about headstones. We are here to help! 703-527-7774


4 thoughts on “5 Common Questions about Headstones & Burial Monuments”

  1. Thanks for pointing out that we can have the markers or headstones placed based on our beliefs, but we must also ask about their policies. I will follow your advice now that I will be having one created for my grandmother since she passed away this morning. My mom assigned me to this task since she is going to be busy with the documents that she needs for the funeral and all. Thanks for the tips!

  2. You mentioned that a headstone can be erected within 4-8 months. This is great to know, especially since my mom is getting so close to the end. I want to make sure that she gets everything she wants in a funeral and memorial! I’m going to talk to her about what she wants her headstone or memorial to look like and then I will search for a company to help us replicate her answer!

  3. I believe that buying a custom, granite memorial is the best way to honor a deceased loved one. I like what you said about flat headstones and how they are most often made with granite. My friend wants to get a new memorial for his grandmother’s grave, so I’ll suggest he go with granite as a foundation.

  4. I was not aware that there was the option to buy pre-need headstones, I initially thought that headstones could only be purchased when they were immediately needed. My wife and I want to share a headstone someday but were unaware of pre-need headstones, it is good to know that the headstone can be updated for both of us. We will be sure to look into pre-need headstone options so that we don’t have to worry about it in the future.

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